Now Reading
Nathan Watson: “To win an enduro world title is my ultimate goal”

Nathan Watson: “To win an enduro world title is my ultimate goal”

The opening round of the 2024 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship saw Beta Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson get his season off to an electrifying start. Claiming the Enduro2 points lead with a class win on day two, he also secured a coveted EnduroGP podium result.

Interview and Images by EnduroGP

Clearly settling well with his new team and Beta machinery, Nathan is eager to continue his strong run of form at round two in Valpacos, Portugal this weekend. With his sights firmly set on capturing his first world title, the Brit is ready to battle it out in 2024 and make his mark in the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship.

Congratulations Nathan, with an Enduro2 class win and visit to the EnduroGP podium you must be pleased with your start to the championship?

Nathan Watson: “Yes, definitely! Obviously changing brands over the winter was a big decision. But as soon as I rode the bike for the first time I felt really good on it, so I didn’t have to do loads of testing. I was still putting in the hours, but we stayed under the radar. It was probably one of the best winters I have had, so it’s nice to see that it paid off at the first round. In the past few years, I’ve had a slow start to the season, but always got better as the season went on. To start with the red plate in Enduro2 and a podium in the EnduroGP class is a good sign. I’m looking forward to round two.”

The fight for the EnduroGP win on Sunday was awesome to watch between you, Steve Holcombe, Josep Garcia, and also Andrea Verona. Do you enjoy that sort of a day, when it’s a true dog fight for victory or a place on the podium?

“Definitely, it keeps you so much more focused when you’re fighting for a win. On the transfers, you’re thinking about every little section where you can make up time, and when you’re riding, you’re pushing as hard as you can. Of course I would’ve preferred to have been at the front of the fight. Hopefully I can do that this weekend.”


Now on a new team and bike with Beta Factory Racing, did you expect to be challenging for the EnduroGP and Enduro2 win at round one?

“Well, obviously Steve [Holcombe] proved that the bike was capable of winning the championship last year, which I knew going into the team. It’s never easy when you jump on a different bike, as every rider knows, and it can sometimes take time to get it set up how you like it. Luckily for me, it was really straightforward and I felt comfortable on the bike immediately. Going into the first round, I knew I was riding fast because I did a Portuguese championship race, as well as the first round of the Italian championship and I did well at both. However, you never really know how strong you are until you actually get to the first round when all the best riders are together. It’s been a great start to the season though.”

Which tests in Fafe did you enjoy the most? Where were you able to gain an advantage on your rivals?

“For me, I thought it was going to be the enduro test because it’s the longest and most technical, but I was actually putting in some strong times in the cross test last weekend. During the last few years I have struggled with the cross tests, which is strange as I come from a motocross background. But I enjoyed the one in Fafe and had a good feeling on it. It allowed me to make up a lot of time to the leading guys, so I’m really happy about that. Overall I think I enjoyed the enduro test the most. It was a really nice test as it had a bit of everything, the ground was perfect and the field in the final section was great for spectators.”

After this weekend’s performance it’s clear you’ve settled in well with Beta Factory Racing. How is life under the Beta awning for you?

“I’m really enjoying it! It’s a smaller team than at Honda – it’s different, but a nice change. It’s just me, Brad [Freeman], Fabrizio [Dini], and our mechanics, which suits me. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I just like to come in and do my job. I get on well with Brad, which is great too. It’s the same with the mechanics. It’s like a little family. I think I fit in well and I’m enjoying it so far.”

Leading into the new season and staying in Enduro2, did you spend much time testing Beta’s 350F, 390F and 450F options? What made you choose the bike you did?

“Honestly, no. I tested the 350F and that was it! I think because the team had a really good base from Steve’s bike that it was proven to suit this championship and be successful. We tested that one from the beginning and stuck with it. Maybe in the future we will try something else, but for now I’m happy with my bike.”

Naturally, both the special tests and conditions in Valpacos should be similar to round one in Fafe. After last weekend’s performance, does that give you added confidence?

“Absolutely! In the past when we have had back-to-back races, I always have my best performances at the second round, and usually the second day of it. I’m like a diesel engine, I take a bit of time to warm up. It’s not ideal as I want to be straight in the fight from Saturday morning instead of always trying to catch up. I had a good race in Valpacos last year and luckily the tests are pretty similar. Last weekend we had a lot of rain before the race, which wasn’t great news for me. I prefer the drier conditions, so with this heat here in Valpacos I feel more confident going into this round. The plan is to start Saturday strong and be in the fight both days this weekend.”

In Fafe you stepped forward as an Enduro2 title contender to Andrea Verona. What will be key for you to go the distance in this year’s championship?

“To win a world title is my ultimate goal. I think because I have started strong, it will help me to stay more focused on winning the Enduro2 title. However, in this sport it is tough to be consistent every race and that really is the key to securing championship wins. Last year I had quite a mixed bag of stronger and weaker performances across the season. I feel like I can be more consistent on this bike!”

Round two of the 2024 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship gets underway in Valpacos tonight with the AKRAPOVIC Super Test. Watch it LIVE from 20:00 WEST/BST on EnduroGP’s YouTube channel!