Finishing fifth overall in last summer’s AMA Motocross Championship, New Zealand’s Cody Cooper picked up lots of recognition as a privateer taking several podiums. Picked up by the formidable North Carolina based Joe Gibbs Racing (JGRMX) Team for 2009, many have big expectations for the 25 year old, though no one expects more than he does of himself. Injured early in Supercross, Cooper missed several months of racing, but now he’s back at it and having fun.
Cody Cooper: For sure, the team is very, very good. They can build pretty much whatever you want, so that’s definitely good in a lot of ways! But I don’t know, I wouldn’t be that bothered if I was on a factory team or a privateer team, I love racing! I’m just very happy, and grateful to be on this team at the moment. It’s very fun and I’m ready for whatever comes.
What is a typical week at the Joe Gibbs Racing compound like?
Well, say we raced on Saturday, we’d fly back Sunday, Monday we’d sort of do some light training with our trainer Tim, and then Tuesday we’d ride. So on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we’d ride, and do some other training with that as well. We’d also probably go to the lake on the boat, and jet skis that we have. Usually we may go to dinner a few of those nights together with a group of us, and then fly out Friday morning for the next race.
Do you feel any additional pressure with being on a team like Joe Gibbs that receives a lot of media and exposure?
Not really. It doesn’t really affect me, but there is obviously more pressure. But I feel it’s just pressure from me, because I want to do well. I know I didn’t do that great in Supercross; I got injured there and missed many races, so I definitely want to pay them back with some good results in the motocross series. For sure it’s more feeling pressure that I put on myself than the team puts on me. I want to do well for myself, not just for the team.
How do you feel with three rounds complete in the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships?
Well, I do think I could’ve done better at Glen Helen, but I suppose that I hadn’t raced in a little while, and was sort of a little bit nervous, but overall it was okay. I got a good start at Hangtown, and I knew that I could do well if I had a decent start. That was the main thing - just knowing that I could ride near the front. I got a fourth in the first moto there, but in moto two I went into the first turn near the tail end. Davi [Millsaps] sort of slipped out and cut across in front of me and I hit his rear wheel and went down. That [laughs] moto was over for me. I picked it up and got going, but then I fell over again. It wasn’t a memorable race for sure. Freestone went well when I got a good start in moto 1, but not so good when I didn’t have a good start in moto 2.
At home in New Zealand, I rode a lot of hard packed clay tracks with real tacky dirt, and good ruts, but I don’t really mind any type of track. They all eventually form, you’ve just got to ride it.
Your teammate Josh Grant is having a great year. How has it been having him as a teammate?
It’s good, you know. I want to see him do well because he’s such a good guy, and he’s a good friend. I’ve learned a lot off him for sure in Supercross, he helped me out a lot with that. Even by just watching him with motocross, and with us riding together, it helps me. I can gauge my speed off him and we can sort of push each other, and help each other out. We’re always training together and hanging out, so that’s cool. I have a lot of fun with him.
In spite of a few top guys now out injured, it seem like the class is deeper this year.
Yeah, it’s definitely harder this year than it was last year – there are so many people! You don’t know who’s going to win each weekend, it’s crazy! In the top ten there are a lot of factory riders. The top ten is definitely full of some talented riders, so I feel that finishing fifth, or trying to finish in the top five in all of my races is definitely a big achievement for sure. Obviously with this field a good start is going to help out a lot.
Wrapping up, who do you want to thank?
Definitely the entire team at Joe Gibbs Racing and all the sponsors that have helped us out so much. In spite of missing much of Supercross my team has really been behind me for sure!