Rapid Rise to the Top

In the past two seasons, Serco Yamaha’s Aaron Tanti has gone from a sometimes fast yet erratic rider to a bankable MX2 contender who is in with a winning chance in every race or series he lines up in.
His recent record has seen him finish inside the top five in the past two MX Nationals championships as well as a top five in the Australian Supercross Championships against a host of US riders. And he feels the steep results curve will continue to climb in 2020.

With the delayed start to the 2020 season, lets catch up with Aaron for a chat about his US trip, his plans for 2020 and how he keeps himself amused when not racing.

Now that you have had some time to reflect, what do you make of your US trip looking back at it?
I am glad I went and had an amazing time. It wasn’t as intimidating as I expected as when we first landed, I was just hoping I would be fast enough to be in the top 40 in the 250cc class so I could qualify for the night show but after riding with the some guys during the week, I took some confidence in my speed.

Then sitting on the line at A1 was just a good feeling. You see it on TV for so many years and read about it on the internet so to finally be there was cool. The crowd was big, the atmosphere was good, and I felt comfortable, so I was fine. I didn’t have a great night at A1, but I knew I could run inside the top 10 after A1 I was able to do that at some of the other rounds and it was just a great experience to ride and train there.

What was the biggest eye opener of thing to take away from the trip that can make you a better rider?
I guess just the little things. The way they ride and train at the track during the week. Watching the Star Yamaha or the factory Yamaha guys do sections of the track and lean from their technique. You get to see things up close and now that if they can do it, so can you. But to me, just finding a tenth here, or half a bike length there is important as do that every lap for 20 laps and it makes a huge difference in the end.

You spent plenty of time with all the Star and factory Yamaha guys at the test track, were you able to form friendships with any of the team members or riders?
Yamaha US and the head of the racing division, Jim Roach, were so good to us. He allowed us to ride at the test track with the teams and got us what we needed if something went wrong. Both Jay and I can’t thank him enough.

The riders and teams were also good, but they also had a job to do preparing for the season. We would all park in our areas, but once we finished the motos, we would stop, and all chat and they offered plenty to us. Shane McElrath was probably the best, he talked to me a lot and gave me plenty of advice which was awesome of him.

The last two seasons have really seen you come of age as a rider, what’s been the major factor in your rapid improvement in results?

Just before the 2018 season, I decided to go racing full time and that made a massive difference. Instead of being a tradie who just raced on the weekend, now I was a full time rider who could dedicate plenty of time to training and racing. It made a massive difference to my fitness and also my confidence knowing that I was prepared and ready to go each weekend. Also having team support behind me that allows me to purely focus riding makes life easier. My job is to roll up and race for 35 minutes wide open and that’s would I can do. 2018 gave me the belief that I could do it and that I was capable of winning races.

I recall as a junior, you had issues with arm pump. Did you have surgery to your arms and has there been any issues with them since?

I used to get arm pump so bad and struggled with it all of my junior days. My hands, fingers and wrists would just lock up in a moto and I couldn’t even hang on. I got surgery in 2013 and that made a difference. I still get arm pump now from time to time, but never as bad as I did as a kid and when I do, its controllable. My arm pump as a junior was basically dangerous as I couldn’t really control the bike but now if it happens, I can still hang on, still use the controls and its manageable, so I’m glad I had it done.

2019 must have been a frustrating year for you- 4th in so many MX Nationals rounds and then similar in the SX, what have you done to improve for 2020 so you are standing on the podium each and every round?
Fourths aren’t much fun and I had way too many in 2019. I think the biggest issue I had was that my starts weren’t great last year, and I was always coming from the pack. There were five fast guys last year and passing anyone of them was tough. If you all have similar speed, then giving them a head start just makes life hard. I felt I was a better rider in 2019, my results didn’t consistently reflect that.

But this year, we have worked on a few things to improve my starts. I changed my technique a little, made some changes to the bike and for the races I have done this year, including the US, my starts have been pretty good.

You have formed a good working relationship with your mechanic at Serco, Ben Dutton. How important is the rider / mechanic relationship?
A good rider/ mechanic relationship is very important. I need to know I can trust him with the bike and he needs to know that I’m not wasting his time or not appreciative of it. Ben has been great and since I signed with Serco Yamaha, we have worked really well together. I have been living with him since I came up to Queensland and trust him with my bikes. He came to the US with me and he didn’t treat it like a holiday, he worked hard while he was there, learnt things about the bike and suspension and we were ready to go for round one.

Obviously we won’t be racing for some time, what other interests do you have outside of motocross?

With this lock down at the moment, it's hard to have any interest outside of the house. Like every racer in Australia, I find things so frustrating at the moment, but its what we have to do. So, my days at the moment are maintain my off bike training with cycling and on-line sessions with Fitstop as well as some sneaky Play-station time. Riding is limited, so it’s a matter of doing what you can off the bike to ensure my fitness stays at a good level.