Features 17 Nov 2020

Fast Thoughts: Nathan Crawford

Reflecting upon season 2020 with Team Honda 114 Motorsports.

Words: Simon Makker

This year saw 23-year-old Nathan Crawford pack his bags and head to Europe to race the MX2 World Championship. Even if you forget the whole COVID thing, it was a wild year for him – occasional top 10 results were off-set with mechanicals at Team Honda 114 Motorsports, before a knee injury saw him pull out of the series prematurely. Now back home in Queensland, MotoOnline caught up with him to get his Fast Thoughts on a range of topics..

Image: Supplied.

MX2 World Championship campaign…

It was a great experience all-in-all. Obviously it was a strange year with Covid-19, but even without that it was crazy, being a new experience and racing the GPs for the first time. I had a great time, learnt a lot of things, and experienced what life was like outside of my home country. I think the biggest thing was the size and quality of the tracks and the competitiveness of the racers. It sucks that we couldn’t really experience what it’s usually like with the thousands of fans present. The atmosphere at some rounds was lacking as a result; it’s a shame I didn’t get to witness the true potential of that this year.

Working with the 114 Motorsports team…

The team was fairly welcoming and understood that it wasn’t easy for us leaving our friends and families on the other side of the world. Even though they were welcoming it still wasn’t like an Australian team where you had that real connection with everyone. I’ve got nothing bad to say about it, and got on well with everyone. It was a bit disappointing that I had a few bike issues over the year, which always seemed to arise when I was heading for a good result. We knew what was breaking, but we could never get an answer on the cause of it breaking. It was tough, as it was always in the back of my mind if it’d happen again on the worst part of the track. I’d never ridden a Honda CRF250R before, and when it ran well it was a decent machine.

Staying motivated and flexible…

Riding and training is my happy place, so for me, I enjoy it even when I’m not racing. I love staying active and riding for fun. When I came back to Australia after the MXGP championship was paused I continued to ride at least once a week and the motivation never really left. I probably backed the training off a touch, let my hair down a bit with good food and enjoying life, but still went to the gym and cycled a lot. I probably hovered at about 80% of my peak the whole time, so that when the championship restarted and we had six weeks to get back on track, it didn’t take all that long to return to the place I needed to be for racing.

Image: Supplied.

Knee injury…

At the second round at Mantova the track was a bit over-watered. I came into a turn and my leg went into the mud – I was crashing and it gave it a good tweak as it got stuck in the ground. I got it looked at and the good news is there’re no ligament tears, but I gave them a real good stretch. Knee injuries can take quite a while to come good, so I took a round off to see if it’d settle down, but it wasn’t enough time for it return to 100 per cent. With the intense three-rounds-a-week racing schedule there was no time to recover and it was too much for my knee to handle. Rest was the best thing for it; it took about six weeks to start feeling OK and now I can start strengthening it up again. It was a disappointing way to finish the year but everything happens for a reason. I try and draw positives from every situation I face; I’m glad I didn’t get seriously hurt, and I gained a lot of experience racing those guys and learning what it takes to be competitive on the world stage. That knowledge will help my career for years to come.

Plans for 2021…

I’m enjoying being back in Australia with my friends, family and girlfriend. It’s amazing the little things you take for granted when you live here that you miss when you’re on the other side of the world. For next year I have a couple of options on the table, both here and in Europe, but I kinda have to keep my cards close to my chest as I’m in the middle of sorting things out at the moment. Hopefully I’ll have something sorted out in the next couple of weeks. If I do go back to Europe I’ll have to step up to the MXGP class because of my age, so that’s a pretty big thing to consider as well. Whatever I decide, I’m looking forward to getting back racing, implementing what I’ve learnt this year, and taking some big strides forward.