Cooper Webb got himself back on the board in Monster Energy AMA Supercross last week when he broke through to win in Tampa, and his old strengths were on display: good start, hang in there through the middle of the race, then hammer late when the track is at its worst. By now, everyone knows that late-race craft is Webb’s asset, but there is a worry that he might not have the all-out sprint pace to stay in it often enough to use it.
In Tampa, he stayed close enough, but in Oakland, he didn’t. While in Tampa he was able to maintain in the whoops, he lost too much ground in the whoops in Oakland. He still put in the late-race fury, but even after a mistake from leader Eli Tomac, it wasn’t quite enough to get Webb the win. He came up short by 0.8 seconds.
“At the beginning I kind of latched on, and I committed to doing that jump line in the middle set of whoops, and Eli was really skimming them well,” he said. “Chase [Sexton] was getting through them well but I couldn’t really see what he was doing. I felt like there, through the dragon and then the other set of whoops is where I was giving up a little bit of time. I switched lines and that kinda helped, then at the end. I felt really good everywhere else and I think they just had a little pace on me there, to be honest, and every lap it just kind of added, added, added.”
That top end speed, especially through the whoops, that’s how the gap opened. As usual, Cooper didn’t have the crazy fast lap, he just stayed with one good pace the whole way.
“I think my [lap time shown on the] pit board said the same thing every lap,” Webb said. “Definitely got the consistency, just we need a little more of that speed at the beginning. I feel like at the end of the race when the track is super gnarly and rough I’m able to adapt, but I think overall, today, I just lacked a little bit of speed throughout the whole day.”
Webb had a similar problem two weeks ago in Houston, where the pack got away. He could identify problems there—the track was more open, with speed at the tops of the berms instead of his favorite lines down low. This track had some similar aspects, he felt, but he couldn’t quite put a finger on exactly the problem this time.
“Yeah, it’s hard to say,” he said. “Some days you just gel super well with the track, some days you struggle a little bit, and I’d say today was in between. At this level we’re all so good and so fast you’re going to have certain days that are better than others. I felt good enough to do well tonight, that was never a doubt in my mind. I mean, I struggled in practice but I often struggle in practice. Obviously, when there’s a lot of time to be made up, it’s tough sometimes to just pull that out of the bag. Like I said, we’ll work on that during the week.”
What can Webb work on?
“I think it’s a little bit of maybe being too conservative,” Webb said. “These guys are going for it and as you can see, mistakes can happen. I think just a little bit was, I wanted to stay in a good position, and maybe they were more riding that limit a little harder than I was at the beginning. I’ve gotta get out of my comfort zone a little at the beginning knowing I’ll can make it happen. I do think this track was a little more open, we were back to the baseball style layout. The tops of the berms were nice. That was more me just needing to open my eyes. But overall, I feel like I’m still in a really good spot. You have certain nights where you’re on. I feel like tonight was a good result for those guys having pulled away from me at the beginning.”
Later in the race, Webb started a new line in the rhythm before the finish, stretching a big leap over a tabletop. It helped him close on Sexton and Tomac.
“Actually, during practice, we are able to film the other guys, and Eli did a line when he went inside roll and over that table,” Webb explained. “That was actually pretty fast, and in my mind, I thought you’d be able to go over that. Honestly it was one of those things I probably could have done sooner but I wanted to save it for the main. I felt like getting out of the ruts would be a big advantage there, and it was. It kind of kept me in it because I was struggling in other places. I don’t know, you kind of feel like when you can do something or not, felt like that was pretty good and not too like unsafe or anything.”
Webb found his late groove, but Tomac had much to large of a lead to make a run for the win. Until Eli nearly crashed on the last lap! Webb was back to the front, leading to a furious run to the win.
“I didn’t exactly see what happened, but I heard the crowd go crazy and then saw a Tuff Block going and I thought, ‘Oh man, this might be good for me,’” Webb said with a smile in the press conference. “But man, he threw it down on that last lap! I did too, but I heard his revs and he was going for it. I was too, but I was like, ‘Man, he’s freakin’ hammering!’ We got close with that mistake but he held it on.”