Is Cooper Webb back? Love him or hate him, a feisty and fast Cooper Webb can add a lot of excitement to a Monster Energy Supercross title chase, and Anaheim 1 was an indication that we'll get the 2019-2021 Webb this season, instead of the winless Webb from last year.
Yes, he did finish on the podium at last year's season opener, but this year's run to second was even more impressive. He got a bad start and made an early mistake, but used his smarts, line choice and race craft to slice and dice through a pack thick with talent. To come from that far back and take second is impressive, no doubt.
Webb is never one to sugar coat his thoughts, good or bad. He was open and honest, as usual, in the post-race press conference.
Racer X: Cooper Webb, you ended the first lap I believe in tenth. I think you were a little farther back than that off the start. At that point with all the heavy hitters in the field, everybody healthy coming into A1, did you believe you’d get as far forward as you did? And if not, at what point into the race did you realize you probably made more ground than expected?
Cooper Webb: Yeah, like you said, the start was not good. Me and Malcolm kind of got into it. Then I wasn’t too bad. I was right behind Chase, and then I actually stalled it. Then that kind of put me back there. So, I just put my head down. I saw up front it was a freight train, and fortunately no one was really getting away too much. So, we were all pretty fast. Especially at the beginning, we were all riding well. Made a few passes. It’s tough because A1, everyone is feisty and wanting to T-bone and we’re all excited. So, it was just being smart, getting around guys, not wasting too much time but not being stupid. Then like you said at the end, I actually just felt really good. The track was insanely rough. Found some good lines. Me and Dylan [Ferrandis] were kind of coming through, and then got around him and got around Kenny [Roczen]. Just saw Chase and was able to make a pass there late. So, I was stoked. I was really hoping honestly just to kind of get a top five or a podium probably about halfway, and then like Eli said, I just kind of started clicking away and guys made mistakes and it worked out.
Do you guys feed off the enthusiasm of the crowd or do you isolate it? It was amazing.
Yes. For me, it’s been a while since I’ve heard it this crazy. I think there was just so much acton, from first to tenth. Everyone was going wild. It’s good and it’s bad. If you’re out front, you’re not sure what’s happening, but it’s definitely electric.
Everybody seemed to make pretty big mistakes at times, and it seemed like you limited those mistakes. Friday’s press conference you mentioned you’re washed up. Are you still washed up or is the champ back?
[Laughs] It feels good to be up here again, for sure. We had a really, really good off-season and fixed a lot of stuff with myself, with the bike. I was definitely a dick this off-season, but I got what I needed from the team and I feel like we’re in a really good spot. I knew what I’m capable of, so I expected the three right here [Webb, Tomac, Sexton], for us to go all the way and we’ll see what happens at the end. Just really does feel good to be back on the podium. I sucked last year, so it feels nice.
I think when Eli got up [from a crash], you were pretty close to him and ahead of Dylan, and then suddenly Eli was far ahead you and Dylan was ahead of you. So, what happened there?
I don’t actually remember. I was trying to fluster Eli when he got up, but he was holding strong....I did make a mistake, and then he got around Dylan. Dylan actually was riding really well. He really was. We kind of got into a battle, and that allowed kind of cat-and-mouse, and that allowed Eli to get that little gap. Hard to remember all of it. There was a lot of mayhem, a lot of passing, a lot of stuff going on.
Cooper, I know you never lost confidence in yourself, but have you regained confidence in the bike? How much of this was you and how much of it was the bike has made some gains?
We’ve changed pretty much everything on this thing. So, we’ve done a lot. It’s tough. You definitely get down and you start to doubt yourself, but I never really lost doubt in my ability, for sure. At our level, we’re all fit. We’re all fast. You need comfort, and without that it’s tough. I think I look at F1 and look at Lewis Hamilton this year. But it’s good to be back up here.
Everyone is talking about how tough this track was. Tell us about that, and also how good does it feel to be back up there?
I think what made it so tough was we ran out of places to go. Everywhere was just a deep rut where you were dragging peg. With the way that they had the tarp and stuff, it’s unbelievable how well they made it. It was almost like curbs as faces. The holes would be very inconsistent. You could go the same line and the next lap it would just have a massive curb and you feel like you’re going to do a front-flip. So, I think that’s what made it so tough. Then to be honest, they didn’t do much before our main, which was pretty surprising. So, I think when we got out there, like Eli said, the one triple section in, it was a kicker the whole way across. So, that’s what made it tough. But I think like you said, the second question, it really is really good to be up here. It’s been a long year since I was here last year, but after that it went pretty downhill. I feel good, man. Like I said, I feel really, really good on the bike. I feel strong. I feel like we’re in a good, raceable spot. So I’m excited to see where this season takes us.
Can you give us some specifics on some things that have been changed that make you more comfortable?
Um.....engine, chassis, suspension, triple clamps… Pretty much everything in the engine. Transmission, foot pegs. Every piece on that motorcycle!
That the feeling you were looking for, did it replicate on the track?
Yeah, for sure. I think for me, turning is my go-to and for me tonight I could turn on a dime, which was incredible. You always ride your practice tracks and you hope that’s what it aligns to, but you never know. I felt super good in the whoops, jumping or skimming all day. It’s going to be different. We’re going to have good tracks and bad tracks, but overall I’m pretty happy. I think I changed one click today, which is unbelievable for me. So, I’ll take that. I’m sure we’ll improve little by little once we kind of get in the flow of things, but I think we’re in a really good spot.