Twice runner-up at the Red Bull Knock Out, Britain’s Nathan Watson knows a thing or two about Beach Racing. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider is most at home when racing in the rough and tumble of deep, challenging and unpredictable sand. He also knows what to expect when lining up alongside 999 other riders on the Scheveningen shoreline in The Netherlands on November 10.

As a rider aiming for the top step of the podium at the final round of the 2018 World Enduro Super Series, Nathan offers a little expert advice on what it takes to ensure Red Bull Knock Out goes off without a hiccup…

1000 riders will compete in Red Bull Knock Out in Scheveningen

Walk the track, but don’t study it too much
“The Red Bull Knock Out track isn’t usually that long – only about a six or seven minute lap time. On the Friday I try to walk it at least once to check things out. It’s good to know where you are going on the first lap, especially with so many riders racing at the same time. I don’t memorise every corner because the track is so big and so wide – corners are easy to spot. I just familiarise myself with it, so I’m aware of any obstacle.”

Clear vision is a must
“Goggles are so important for a Beach Race. If you run into any problems with vision then it can cost you huge amounts of time. For Red Bull Knock Out I will have about five pairs of googles with roll-offs prepared in advance. Generally, I do this before I leave home, otherwise I end up rushing things on race day and run into trouble.”

Nathan Watson: “Managing traffic is one of the most important elements of a Beach Race.”

Keep calm and upright for the start
“I try to stay relaxed before the start. Of course it’s an important part of the race, but not where it’s won or lost. It’s an advantage to be on the front row if possible, but also not the end of the world. With so many bikes around you, be on high alert for other riders crossing your lines. You have to be patient in the first corner and don’t crash there because that’s where you can go from the front to the back of the entry in double quick time.”

Nathan Watson, Jeffrey Herlings and Glenn Coldenhoff celebrate on the podium at the Red Bull Knock Out 2016.

The main straight is scary fast
“At the Red Bull Knock Out the sand is very soft and rough on the main straight and there can be a lot of glare from the sun, so it’s a section to treat with respect. I like to go as close to the sea as possible because I find it’s the smoothest. But by doing that you also have to be wary of the waves because they can cause you to aquaplane, and at 160kph that’s scary.”

Over 2500 truck loads of extra sand are required to build the 5km course.

Push hard from the start
“Personally, I like to push from the start. I find if I try to conserve energy and pace myself then it’s hard to increase my speed if I’m in a battle for either the win or a qualifying position. You lose the sharpness and tend to ride lazy in the sand if you’re not giving everything, which actually results in using even more energy than necessary. I think it’s best to ride as hard as you can from the start until your tongue is on the floor and then just survive!”

The 2018 World Enduro Super Series concludes with the eighth and final round at Red Bull Knock Out on Saturday November 10.

Re-energise between races
“I don’t look at the track between races – there’s not really enough time. Instead I sit down and sort nutrition and hydration out. It’s important to replenish the energy levels lost during the previous qualifier race so I eat plenty of protein and carb laden foods and drink lots of fluids. While doing that I’ll make sure my goggles, gloves and helmet are cleaned and ready to go again.”

The ‘Red Bull Knock Out’ will be broadcast in a live show on Red Bull TV from 13.15hrs on Saturday, November 10.

Keep pit stops fast and efficient
“In the two-hour final you will need to do a pit stop to refuel, which for me normally comes at the halfway mark. Before the race have a clear strategy of what is going to happen. Also make sure you know where your pit stop is set up, so it’s easy to find among the 750 riders. Ideally have someone give you a signal of when to pit – that’s a big help as it’s one less thing to think about. When I arrive into the pits, I slide to the rear of the bike and someone refuels my bike while another person hands me a fresh set of goggles. By the time I’ve put them on, it’s time to go – it all happens that fast!”

An estimated 150,000 spectators are expected.

Be patient in heavy traffic
“Managing traffic is one of the most important elements of a Beach Race. Often it becomes the difference between winning and losing. With so many competitors on track you need to be patient when lapping slower riders as they won’t be aware of someone faster approaching. You need to look ahead, read their body language and try to anticipate what they might do. It’s just something which comes with experience…” (source: world enduro super series)

STORY: Nathan Watson Claims Victory At St. Leger De Balson
STORY: KTM Factory Racing Riders Set For Red Bull Knock Out
STORY: Robbie Maddison fährt über’s Wasser zum WESS-Finale (german)

LINK: ‘A bluffer’s guide to Red Bull Knock Out’ on
LINK: World Enduro Super Series

photos (c) Jarno Schurgers & Bavo Swijgers & Rein Rijke & Future7Media – Red Bull Content Pool