News 10 Feb 2017

McCormack calls it a day on professional off-road career

Ex-AORC E1 title-winner moving into mentor role with Yamaha.

Image: John Hamilton (Mad Dog Images).

Former national champion Tom McCormack has confirmed that he will hang up his boots and move on from professional competition following a string of serious injuries during the 2015 and 2016 Australian off-road seasons.

The 2014 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) E1 title-winner’s injury woes began in early 2015 as a newcomer to the high-profile CDR Yamaha Off-Road squad and continued on upon return through 2016.

Suffering his second spinal injury in two years at the 2016 Yamaha Australian Four-Day Enduro (A4DE), it was then that the 23-year-old made the tough decision to step away from racing at the elite level of the sport – or riding altogether – locally.

“At this stage I’ve got no plans of going back to racing or riding in the near future,” McCormack told this afternoon. “Just because the risk is quite high now with the rods going into my neck.

“When they operated on me they removed all of the old hardware and ended up fusing me from the T1 to T9 vertebrae, which is quite a large fusion. So I have no movement in my spine from pretty much my neck to way below my shoulders, so for me to go back riding would be extremely painful and also extremely risky.”

Moving on from racing McCormack plans to remain heavily-involved in the sport, taking on a development-type mentor role of sorts with Yamaha Motor Australia for the upcoming season: “I’ll stay involved in the sport. Yamaha have been unreal to me through the whole process and I’m going to be working with two younger riders to help them come through the ranks.

“Obviously I’ve been with Yamaha for a long time and they wanted to ensure I wasn’t without a job, so I’m going to be helping these younger riders take the next step. Myself and people around me felt like there was a gap in the off-road scene where the younger riders were sort of being forgotten about.

“I picked two riders that I thought could do well, and they’ve both got the resources to ride full-time, so we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. It’s a big change for me going from being just a rider, to now being a mechanic, a coach and everything else in between, but I’m enjoying it.”

Specific details on McCormack’s new role with Yamaha are yet to be released. An official announcement on the new off-road development program he’s involved in is expected in the coming weeks.