Features 21 Mar 2023

Debrief: 2023 ProMX Rd2 Appin

Overall winners Tanti and Crawford recall second round in New South Wales

CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s Aaron Tanti commenced his title defence by claiming the overall win at Sunday’s second round of the 2023 Penrite ProMX Championship in Appin, as Nathan Crawford (KTM Racing Team) delivered a commanding MX2 showing to win both races convincingly. MotoOnline caught up with both riders after the races for this Debrief interview.


Image: Foremost Media.

Aaron, congratulations on the win. Take us through your day on that technical track.

Started out the day a little off the pace in practice and qualifying, I was fifth in qualifying, the track was pretty muddy, then I was fifth again in the shootout. I’m usually pretty good at bouncing back for the races. They watered and ripped the first turn and it was just slop for the first moto, there was a lot of carnage, luckily I missed it, I got tagged a little and went sideways, came out of there mid-pack so I had to charge through and make a fair few passes in the opening laps. I got through to third and was able to maintain that, I just tried not to do anything silly so I could regroup for the back-to-back races. Coming into those I just changed my gate position a little, made a bit of a safer play. I pulled pretty good starts in both and was just behind Dean [Ferris] in that first one, I was trying to apply pressure and he made a mistake early trying to push a bit too hard while it was gnarly. I just capitalised on that, it was nice to lead the laps and get that win. In the second one I got another decent start and kind of finished where I started, I had the team telling me to finish behind Jed [Beaton] to get the overall, finishing third was the best spot for me to finish besides obviously winning the race, so we just did what we had to do.

What went through your head when you saw Dean Ferris go down early in the first back-to-back moto? Did that change your mindset at all?

No, it just made my race a lot easier, I didn’t have to cop any roost. I just tried to hit my marks every lap. It was the kind of track where you weren’t pushing the boundaries too much cause the track was so technical, so I just didn’t want to make mistakes in the ruts. I was just trying to maintain the gap behind me so I didn’t have too much pressure. It made the day a little brighter, third in the first moto was good, but I wanted to do my best and third in the opening moto isn’t always the best score to get the overall at the end of the day. So it felt good to get that win out of the way.

It must feel good to get a win in your first outing on the new YZ450F. Was there anything to take away as far as bike setup goes in a race scenario?

Honestly, we’ve been a little late to the party cause we’ve been waiting on parts and trying to develop the new bike. It was a lot different to last year where they pretty much handed me a championship-winning bike, but this year we’ve been building it up. I was testing on the Thursday before Wonthaggi trying some new settings and still searching a bit. I got to something I like, we did some more stuff the day before Appin on the practice track with the sag and that was all we really changed. The bike worked good and I was happy with it in the races, but I think there’s still room for improvement and the team knows that too. So it’s a big confidence boost knowing that there’s still that little bit of room to be better.

How important was it for you to kick your title defence off with a win here? Was that a goal for you or did you just want to stack solid points?

The goal was different for Wonthaggi, there’s a lot of riders that live down there and excel there, we wanted to be on the podium, or at least have an average day inside the top five. But coming into Appin the goal was a little different. That soil is something I’m a little better suited for, so expectations changed a little and it was time to capitalise.

This is the first time you’ve entered a season with the red plate. Did you feel added pressure with that?

I think pressure was taken away by a lot of people expecting other guys to win, I see all the write ups and people on social media talking, that noise doesn’t affect me at all. I’m out there riding my race, I’m a pretty cruiser guy, it’s not like everyone expected me to win. But for me, I wanted to back last year up, I didn’t want to come from last year where I won races and won supercross races, then come out this year and not do the same thing with the number one plate, so I had that little bit of pressure and obviously being on CDR Yamaha, we’re expected to win, so just a little bit of pressure, but not as much as what some people would think.


Image: Foremost Media.

Nathan, 1-1 on the day for you. Appin has been sensational for you over the years, talk to us about the way the track formed up and how the motos played out.

The track was really quite wet this morning, I did one lap of practice and then spent the remaining nine minutes in the mechanics’ area waiting for the timed qualifying, it was that wet. We ended up on a sand tyre in practice, which coming to a hard-pack track like Appin is unheard of. But we realistically needed it, now that we’re at the end of the day, it’s hot, dry and dusty, but it has plenty of lines out there, which I think for this place creates plenty of passing opportunities. The track formed up well and I gelled with the ruts quite good, I had a really good day. I’ve got a good track record going at Appin, I went 1-1 last time we were here, I think it was 2018, and 1-1 again today, good omens here.

Like you said on the podium, you let your riding do the talking. We all know what’s happened over the last two weeks, so how does that feel to come here and get this result?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty on my mind. But, also at the same time, I let my riding do the talking and I think I did a shit load of talking today. Yeah, it was a hard couple of weeks but I kept the goal in mind, put my head down and my ass up and worked hard.

Now onto round three, obviously, you lost those points at round one so you are going to be coming from behind. You went 1-1 today, there’s still a lot of ground to make up. How do you look at the remainder of the series now?

Yeah I am coming from back a little bit, it’s not 100% confirmed but I think I’m up to third in the championship already, don’t quote me on that. But if so, it’s not so bad after all. Obviously, I lost 25 points at Wonthaggi, but I’ve brought it down to 19 in one round, so if I can keep clicking them off like this, it won’t be long until we’re back fighting for the championship.

When you think about how last year started with the injury. This year looks pretty good with plenty of races left in the season right?

Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it, we’ve really got the ball rolling now. I’ve won plenty of races before and I won a lot of races at the end of last year coming back from injury, but sometimes getting that first win of season can be hard, getting that monkey off your back, but I never doubt my ability or my team. We’ve put in the work this pre-season and it was seamless, so we just want the hard work to show on the weekends.