Monster Energy / Kemea / Yamaha MX2 rider Ben Watson will arrive at the 2020 MXGP of Great Britain opener—set for Matterley Basin this weekend—as something of a favorite among the large home crowd. Expected to be the biggest Grand Prix crowd ever at the circuit in the valley, the pressure is something Watson wants to enjoy and go for a victory.
We caught up with Ben and went through what he expects and how he feels heading into the 2020 MX2 World Championship season.
We are a few days away from Matterley, how are you feeling?
Not bad, I mean the offseason went really well. Just after Riola, I hit my hand and I sat out the other two preseason races, but I am back on the bike and things are going good again. I am really excited, and it will be different than last year because the weather might play a part. It is the same for everyone and it is a long season so, yes, get started and see if what we did in the offseason works. Or, where we are at, you could say.
I was speaking to Max Anstie this week, and he mentioned you are staying in his house, so 1-1 at Matterley should be possible coming from that house?
(laughs) Yes, I have taken over his house because he went to America and that is a big change for me. No excuses now if he can do it, I can.
The weather forecast changes a lot and I think there are some forecasts even saying snow but for you British guys that shouldn’t be a problem. Is it good with a little mud, or does everyone want to race in the sunshine?
I mean it is positive and it is also not. We have done all our testing in good conditions and that is what we work for, but it will be the same for everyone. We all live in Belgium and it isn’t that big a positive for the British really.
You have earned the right to be the Brit that most people are going to be supporting. Obviously, Adam [Sterry] and Shaun [Simpson] in MXGP will probably be happy with a good top ten, but you might be at the pointy end of the points in MX2—one of the MX2 title contenders. How does that feel? Extra pressure, or can you just enjoy that you put yourself in this situation?
Definitely, that is what we work for. When you work your way to there and you can fight for wins, I expect that from myself. A few years ago, I was going for top five results, but now I am working for wins. I have beaten everyone on the line a few times and that is what we are working for.
I remember we spoke after your MXoN debut in America and you handled that pressure no problem and even seemed to thrive in it. Is that something you need to work on or do you look forward to it?
No, just because it is the British GP, I feel I am one of the ones fighting for wins and I have worked for that. I expect that from myself. I am not thinking about what the British fans are thinking, because that won’t help me. I learned that last year and if it doesn’t go well now, even if I am not in the top five, I am not going to worry. It is a long season and I will just keep working.
I was speaking to Max [Anstie] about these first few rounds of the championship. While they are part of the championship, you can nearly count them as preseason type races, because the championship is so long. I mean you don’t want to score really badly, but a good top ten is probably okay for the moment and build on it?
Yes, definitely. You see a lot of the time some people who start strong at the start of the season are not strong at the end of the season. You have to structure yourself and try and be strong all season, but everyone will have a bad weekend and crashes and you just have to stay consistent. Try not to think about everything. I am not going there thinking I want to be careful, I just go there and do my best but a top-five is okay. I am going there to win. When you are riding properly, that is when you ride best anyway.
I was speaking to Steve Dixon recently and he mentioned tickets sales are on record for maybe three times more than a usual GP. Possibly the biggest crowd ever for a GP there if pre-sales are anything to go by. How cool is that going to be with a massive crowd at the home GP?
If you are a true motocross fan and you want to watch everyone racing, the weather shouldn’t matter. The British fans are used to that weather anyway. It is great to hear that it will be a busy weekend and hopefully the British guys can put on a show.
How is the hand? Anything close to 100%?
It isn’t 100%, of course. I have been off the bike for a few weeks, but it isn’t going to cause me any problems. I won’t be using it as an excuse.
Can you give me a tip for the MXGP class?
I think [Jeffrey] Herlings is of course the title favorite. He has something about him. The winning mentality and he is special. [Tim] Gajser, he will be strong and he seems good at putting a full season together. He will be fighting for wins. I am sure and will take some away from Herlings. I think the odd time maybe [Romain] Febvre on a new bike and some new motivation. We know coming back from his ankle injury he won a GP. He has had a strong offseason as well.
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