However, the opening of the extreme X-Loop for the final hour dramatically changed the flow of the race and Watson - putting his Enduro skills to good use - fought his way into the lead. Continuing his fast pace during the final laps, and with the track at his roughest, Watson stormed ahead to claim a 90-second margin of victory over Coldenhoff, with Martens coming through for third.
In the battle at the head of the World Enduro Super Series, all eyes were on title contenders Bolt and Lettenbichler, who were inside the top 20 of the 750 competitors. Positioning themselves out of trouble early on, the duo were closely matched with Bolt holding an important advantage.
However, two crashes by Bolt put him on the back foot during the closing stages of the race. Needing a lap to regroup he began to make headway, using the technical X-Loop to his advantage. Pushing clear of Lettenbichler and working his way up to 12th, the Husqvarna rider crossed the finish line as the newly-crowned champion.
Despite giving his best effort, Lettenbichler was unable to get the better of Bolt in the deep Dutch sand, finishing a creditable 15th to take the runner-up result in the 2018 World Enduro Super Series. In the fight for the final step of the championship podium, Watson‰Ûªs round eight victory saw him leap past teammate Josep Garcia (KTM - ESP) - who placed 16th - to secure third overall.
"To become the ultimate enduro champion is huge - I can‰Ûªt believe it yet and it‰Ûªs going to take a while for this moment to sink in," Bolt said.
"The race itself was crazy. I had two huge crashes and hit the ground hard, but apart from that I enjoyed it. It was tough making your way past all the other competitors ‰ÛÒ there were bikes everywhere. Also, the track conditions changed so much every lap and then the tide came in on the start straight, reducing it to half its width. I knew I needed to stay out of trouble as much as possible. And despite two crashes of my own making I pretty much did that.
"Overall, it‰Ûªs been such a long season, with so many different races. Winning round one at Extreme XL Lagares feels a life time ago. To race everything from Hard Enduro, Classic Enduro, Cross-Country and now Beach Racing and come out of it all as the ultimate enduro champion is amazing.‰Û