MX1 champion Tanti and MX2 overall winner Crawford recall eighth round.
CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Aaron Tanti wrapped up the 2022 Penrite ProMX MX1 title at Coolum, doing what he needed to do to secure the crown, as KTM Racing Team’s Nathan Crawford made it back-to-back MX2 overall victories at the final round. MotoOnline caught up with both riders after the races for this Debrief feature.
Congratulations on securing the MX1 title! Talk us through your thought process in the final laps of moto two, and the emotion of crossing the line to secure the championship.
It was honestly crazy, I had a really big buffer going into that second moto so I got to find a flow from lap one and just ride at a pace that was super comfortable, and where I knew I wasn’t going to make a mistake. I was just riding around. It felt really good most of the moto, but definitely when I saw three laps to go on the pit board and some of the messages… the 2022 champ, the emotions were running high and I still can’t believe it today. I’m just waking up, and I’m like ‘yeah I really did win an MX1 championship’.
You touched on it briefly there, but your approach to the races, especially moto one, it just looked like you tried to get a decent start and then space yourself out?
Yeah, 100 percent. Obviously moto one, I was going in a bit more nervous. Prior to the race, the team had worked out results-wise what I needed to finish – if say [Dean] Ferris was to win the moto, I had to be in the top seven. I definitely went into that moto a little bit tighter, I got off to a good start and I really didn’t flow. I fought the track and I did just physically blow up a little bit, and it was just a super long moto for me. I was a little bit disappointed in myself in that one. To go back and hear the results after the race, and knowing how much of a buffer I had, I sat down and relaxed, and the last one was more to find a flow and enjoy it more than anything.
With your massive achievement, how much time off do you get to celebrate that? Or is it pretty much straight into supercross now? Also regarding the SX preparation, how much is going to be on the 250 and adapting back to that, or is a lot of it still going to be on the 450, at least to start?
I’m probably just looking at having a week off this week, had the celebrations with the awards night and celebrated with the team and stuff. Now I’m back home, I was living in Queensland so it was just a two-hour drive home for me. I’ll probably have a week off the bike, take it all in, enjoy myself and maybe head back to the gym later in the week. Definitely earned a few days off, that’s for sure. Preparations are definitely starting soon with the first round of WSX in the UK at the start of October, so it’s not far away. Like you said, I do have to jump on the 250 at some point, but I am going to be starting on my 450 as they had the bike ready for me, and my suspension is all done in that. They’ll get me down testing with the 250 once the team is back and sorted, so that will be in the next week or two.
Having a national title to your name as you enter a series like the FIM World Supercross Championship, is it an added boost for you as you compete alongside some of the best riders from around the globe?
I am super happy with my riding, making limited mistakes and I just feel like, over the years, I have been building to be a really good supercross rider. I went over and got experience in the AMA Supercross Championship at the start of 2020 and I’ve proved that I am a 450 rider as well. I’m really looking forward to especially jumping on the 450 in the Australian Supercross Championship and putting all of that together and seeing how I can go, as well as doing WSX on the 250. I’m a stronger rider, I am a lot more confident and I have a really good team backing me, so it’s going to be an awesome experience.
It was great to see you get another overall. Can you talk us through the two motos from your perspective? With the first race being a flawless performance, was moto two more so you just doing what was required to secure the round win?
I got off to two really good starts on the weekend, I’m not 100 percent sure if they awarded me the holeshot for the second moto but I went into the tight right-hander in first anyways. The first moto, I put a lot of effort into the first 15 minutes, built myself a comfortable lead and just tried to conserve some energy for the second moto because I knew it was going to be tough. I won that moto which was good, and it was three moto wins in a row for me so that was a cool little streak to have going there. I was pushing quite hard for the first 10 minutes again, in the second moto, then I could sort of feel the body start to fatigue a little bit and I could see my track position and where everybody else was around me. Levi [Rogers] was riding really good in that second moto, and he pushed up onto the back of me. I wouldn’t say I was riding on the edge, but definitely, the track was rough and sketchy in some places. I just decided to take a little bit less risk and I let Levi go past me with about 10 or 12 minutes to go, and just made sure I maintained a gap behind me to third place. Levi was still a little bit within striking distance if I had decided to try and go for it, but I just knew I didn’t have to win the second moto to get the overall.
There’s no doubt you were the dominant rider in the final two rounds of the series. Do you feel like you had what takes to challenge Wilson Todd if it weren’t for the injury at the start of the year?
We would have at least been challenging each other, that is for sure. This is not a talk down on any of the other riders in the class, but I definitely think he was riding out the front, alone, by himself quite a lot. Definitely think I would have been able to apply the pressure, I was riding really good before I got hurt, and riding good again now that I’m back. I think that we would have been battling it out all year, but again, I wasn’t there, so it’s kind of hard to say. I definitely would like to think in my own mind that I would have been challenging him for the championship.
Has your fitness improved throughout each of the rounds since your return at Coffs Harbour? Obviously, some tracks are more challenging than others, physically, but do you feel like you are still improving in that regard?
Yeah, 100 percent. When I got back at Coffs Harbour the track was really, really technical, which actually slowed the pace down a lot. I think in some ways, while I was ready for it as best as I could be with the time I had, I think that helped actually because you had to be smoother and a little more calculated instead of just all out raw speed, hanging it out a lot. I definitely think that is where I was lacking, my qualifying was never really all that spectacular. At QMP [Queensland Moto Park] I’m pretty sure I qualified seventh and then went 1-1. I just think there were a few little things I was missing there, but I think that was due to where I was at, coming back from injury. To be honest, I thought I was going to struggle around Coolum a little bit more, just because Coffs Harbour and QMP, while they were technical, rough and rutted, they were still hard-packed tracks. They were so technical that they slowed the pace down, which worked in my favour. Obviously Coolum just got super gnarly and rough, and I thought my bike fitness was going to be a little bit worse, but yeah I felt pretty good. The more rounds I got done towards the end, it was just more of a comfort level getting better, to where it got to a point where I wasn’t getting arm pump or anything like that. Coffs Harbour was full arm-pump, and race fitness wasn’t as good as I would have liked, despite the results being good. These other guys had done five extra rounds than me, so naturally, you just start building up a base of fitness. Towards the end, I was starting to get it together and my fitness and comfort level were coming back for sure.
With ProMX complete, what do the next few weeks look like for you? I remember you saying that you will commence testing the 2023 model 250 SX-F ahead of supercross.
I’m going to take the best part of this week… maybe towards the end of this week get back into the gym. I’ll be riding the 2023 bike towards the end of this week and just doing a little bit of testing on that thing. My gym training program is going to change a lot now to cater for supercross, so my trainer just said we will give ourselves a couple of days to relax and de-load a little bit then get back into it towards the end of this week and get on the supercross track.