Queenslander sets sights on world championship deal for 2020 season.
The factory Serco Yamaha team has reverted to a two-rider structure in the lead-up to Brisbane’s opening round of the 2019 Australian Supercross Championship after mutually agreeing to part company with Nathan Crawford.
American import Jacob Hayes and Aaron Tanti will lead Serco’s SX2 title challenge through the five-round series, while despite initially being announced as part of a three-rider roster, Crawford will sit out the championship.
“Unfortunately Nathan Crawford won’t be on the start-line as he has been in a race against time after sustaining a collarbone injury in recent weeks,” a Yamaha statement confirmed. “With the rapid-fire nature of this years’ championship and Crawford’s intentions to race overseas in 2020, it was mutually agreed between Serco Yamaha and Crawford for him to pursue those options and he will miss this year’s championship.”
Crawford spent three weeks training for supercross following the MX Nationals season in which he finished fourth in the final MX2 standings, however, a collarbone injury limited his preparations and ultimately led to the decision for him to focus on next year.
“Supercross, as we know, is so dangerous and – nothing against any of the riders – the 250 class is even more dangerous than the 450 class,” Crawford told MotoOnline.com.au. “I did sustain a small collarbone injury, but it was nothing major, and it was a race against time. I probably could have fit some of the rounds in, but how it works this season in having to be inside the top 10 to go to Auckland, it was looking pretty dismal to even make all five rounds.”
The announcement comes amid widespread speculation that 22-year-old Crawford will transition to the MX2 World Championship in 2020, which is a possibility since he doesn’t turn 23 until July. It’s rumoured that he’s in discussions with the 114 Motorsports Honda team that countryman Mitch Evans has ridden for this season, but Crawford has been tight-lipped on the subject and maintains that a deal for him to go overseas remains in the works.
“I want to focus on getting my plans sorted for 2020, because like I said to you before – and I wasn’t lying – I haven’t sorted anything yet,” he added. “You know, I want to focus on that and make sure I’m 100 per cent ready to go. My injury is fine and it feels good, so I guess, if my plans come off, I want to be at peak fitness by the time those plans hopefully come together.
“The few weeks that I did do of supercross, I felt like I was riding it the best that I probably have in my career. I just had that small hiccup and lucky it wasn’t anything major, because it could have been so much worse – it is what it is. Obviously, I always want to fulfil my obligations, but it kind of worked out in everyone’s favour.
“You know, Serco was going to be three riders and that was going to be tough on our whole team to run three riders – at the end of the day, they’ve got two riders that are title contenders and I was just going to be chasing my tail the whole time. It ended up working out for all of us, so I’m almost 100 per cent healthy, training hard and trying to work out my plans for 2020. There are no negatives to come out of it, to be honest.”