On Wednesday, the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM team announced on Instagram that Nate Thrasher would make his pro debut this weekend at Millville. On Thursday, we heard that plan was off—and the Instagram post disappeared. We now have confirmation from the track today that Thrasher won’t be racing.
It’s not for the reasons you would expect. Thrasher is healthy and ready. But we’ve now heard that Thrasher is part of a complicated process involving the TLD team and Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha. As we have reported, TLD is moving to Gas Gas branding for 2021, and it wants a 450 rider. Justin Barcia is on the shopping list. Yamaha would like to keep Justin Barcia. We’ve heard this could go any number of ways—Barcia stays on Yamaha to join Star’s new 450 team, or Barcia leaves to go to TLD Gas Gas.
Enter Thrasher. With TLD moving to Gas Gas, some of the TLD rider’s deals have to be redone. This gave an opening for someone else to talk to Thrasher, and Star Racing pounced. With Star now talking to Thrasher for the future, there’s no rush for TLD to get him out on track this weekend.
Meanwhile, if Star is considering signing a TLD rider, TLD is considering signing a Star Rider. TLD Gas Gas really needs a 450 guy like Barcia for 2021. Consider this, in some way, almost like a trade—the TLD team would take the veteran win-now-450 guy (Barcia) and Star takes the future prospect (Thrasher).
All we know for sure is that Nate Thrasher won’t be making his pro debut this weekend. But we think this all points to Thrasher racing for Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha next year, and Justin Barcia riding for Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull Gas Gas next year.
Maybe. Just a week ago, we heard Barcia was for sure staying with Yamaha, and now that’s back up in the air. Just two days ago, we heard Thrasher was racing this Saturday for TLD. Now that's not happening. Things are changing fast, so don’t take anything for certain yet. The silly season keeps getting sillier!