Finishing fourth overall the Yamaha rider's best result of the season.
Scoring second in 250MX moto two at Ironman has come as a timely boost of confidence for Justin Cooper as he races himself back into full fitness following a string of minor injuries.
The Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha rider fractured his hand directly after Monster Energy Supercross, limiting his preparations for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross.
Cooper – who recently extended his Yamaha contract – was eighth at Loretta Lynn’s opener and then 11th at LL2, before improving to go 8-2 for fourth overall on the weekend. Improvements made prior to moto helped him climb the order in his best result of the season to date.
“It’s definitely been a tough comeback for me,” Cooper admitted. “I got hurt right after Supercross, so I didn’t really get to do any outdoor testing. It’s just been catching up, getting the bike where I want it and my fitness is obviously not as good as I want it to be.
“Coming in under-prepared is always hard, but it was even more difficult with Loretta’s – the conditions there were pretty bad. This weekend we found a better setting for the bike and I was able to really show that in the second moto.
“But we want to be battling for the win and, until that’s the case, I’m just going to keep grinding. It’s a pretty short series, so we don’t have a lot of time and have to figure something out pretty quick. We ended on a good note with second in moto two and we had the pace to run with the leaders.”
“I was pretty worried. I had to ride with a brace because I had a cast on for like four weeks… the braking bumps were pretty bad on my wrist, because my wrist was locked up for four weeks, so it wasn’t like the hand was the biggest problem, I also had the wrist to worry about.
“I think started riding a week before [Loretta Lynn’s 1] and I knew it was going to be tough, but I knew I had to go out there and do something. We did what we could. I felt like I could have maybe been better at round two, but we had the conditions there also, so it could have been up or down.”
Cooper has also now revealed that it was an incident prior to Salt Lake City that denied him any true opportunity to challenge for the 250SX West crown during the seven-week span in Utah.
“It was my last day riding before the Supercrosses,” he explained. “My bike hit false neutral on a step-on, so I went over the bars pretty heavy. My chest was pretty banged up from that and it really made it hard at those races, because I couldn’t breathe very well. It was already hard to breathe up there, so it made it 10 times worse.”