Kawasaki has confirmed that Ben Watson will be the new teammate of Romain Febvre next season, joining the Frenchman in the Kawasaki Racing Team assault on the FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship.
Considered one of the most-promising British youngsters of recent years Ben Watson had a solid MXGP rookie season this summer, gaining in experience as the year went on in this highly-competitive class to culminate his season with the MXGP gold medal at the Motocross of Nations. Watson eventually just missed the top-ten in the final MXGP series rankings by a couple of points but he finished top-ten at no less than ten rounds with a fifth overall as his best result at the Dutch round of the series.
The twenty-four-year-old native of Nottinghamshire, England, first appeared on the international stage when he contested the European series as a ten-year-old, winning his very first race in the 65cc class. He progressed through the classes and has impressed throughout his adult career, starting with a fifth place in EMX250 and victory at the world-famous Enduro du Touquet in the Junior class. Ranked top five in the MX2 World Championship in both 2018 and 2020, he proved his ability on all surfaces in the closing stages of the latter season with GP victories on the vastly-different tracks of Lommel in Belgium and Pietramurata in Italy before switching to the premier MXGP class in 2021.
Kawasaki Motors Europe Racing Manager Steve Guttridge is convinced that Ben will be a strong teammate to Romain Febvre.
“It was a tough decision-making process to work through along with the project leaders in Japan regarding whom should finally take the second seat inside our factory MXGP team,” Guttridge said. “We have a clear focus on Romain to challenge for the title, but the future arrives fast and a younger teammate who can grow into the MXGP programme is very important also. The duo already have a close relationship as they have often trained together in the past and Ben has already experienced a solid rookie season in the MXGP class which takes a big extra learning curve for riders coming up from MX2 to succeed within these days. Inside the Kawasaki Racing Team we believe the staff can help Ben make that step in his career in 2022.”
Ben now has a little over two months to prepare for the opening round of the 2022 World Championship which will start in his native UK on February 20th at Matterley Basin.
“I’m really looking forward to this fresh start,” Watson said. “I’ve been with another couple of brands almost all my life and Kawasaki is one I’ve never ridden before, so to have this fresh start with new colours is definitely something I need at this stage of my career. I’ve had some ups-and-downs during my MXGP rookie season this year but I think I proved on numerous occasions like the Nations and several other GPs that I have what it takes to race upfront.
“I was just missing a few things but I’m joining a group of guys and a bike I really believe will help me. I’m really excited to put my leg over the KX450-SR. The plan is to get used to the bike before Christmas; to get a feeling for the handling, the power delivery and sort out a few small things like seat height, position of the bars and so on. I’m looking forward to working with Romain and all the team and I think this is exactly what I need as a package to make the next step. It’s going to be a tough couple of months leading up to the opening GP at Matterley in February but wow, what a start to my Kawasaki career at the home GP with all the British fans cheering me on!” Watson concluded.