Second of three premier class riders announced by factory team.
British standout Ben Watson will step up to the MXGP World Championship division with Monster Energy Yamaha in 2021, rewarded for his form with the team in MX2 as he ages out of the 250 category.
Watson, 23, won his first grand prix at Lommel on Sunday and was informed immediately afterwards that the factory Yamaha team would be signing him to ride the YZ450FM in the premier class from next season.
“Firstly, I want to thank each and every member of staff in Kemea,” Watson said. “The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team gave me everything and more every day for three years. I am so grateful to join the factory MXGP team and stay with my Yamaha family – it means so much to me and I cannot wait for this new challenge.
“I have been lucky enough to work closely and get to know Louis Vosters, Vitaliy Tonkov and some of the other Wilvo team members and I know I will be welcomed with open arms. I truly believe the YZ450FM will be a great bike for my riding style and I am really motivated to show everyone what I can do in MXGP. I know the category is at such a high level, so I am fortunate to join a team with a lot of experience, success and motivation.
“I really want to learn and show progression, it’s what I work towards every year and with the experience of my teammates in MXGP, I know I will be able to gain a lot of knowledge and continue my development. I am so excited to get started now and jump on this amazing bike to prepare for the new season.”
Watson is the second Monster Energy Yamaha rider to be signed, joining the returning Jeremy Seewer, however, it’s expected that both Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus will depart at the end of the season. Current GasGas rider Glenn Coldenhoff has been linked to Yamaha in recent months.
Yamaha Motor Europe off-road racing manager Alexandre Kowalski commented: “We are really happy to keep Ben inside the Yamaha family by moving him up to the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team. It’s just rewards for Ben’s hard work and dedication to training and racing and his commitment to Yamaha as well.
“At Yamaha it is our mission to develop riders and make it possible for them to achieve their dreams within the Yamaha family and, like Thibault Benistant stepping up from the MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 team to the Hutten Metaal Yamaha Official EMX250 team and then to the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team, we are seeing Ben progress from the factory MX2 team to the factory MXGP team.
“We have to thank the Kemea team and all of the guys at Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2, who have supported Ben since 2018 and have allowed him to achieve all that he has. It’s time for Ben to step up to the Yamaha Factory MXGP team – has been a long time Yamaha Factory rider in MX2, he is very close to us at Yamaha and it was his dream was to be a Yamaha Factory MXGP rider, and today his dream comes true.”