News 11 Jun 2024

'I tried to run and hide but got caught' - Cooper

The 450 class rookie led 23 laps across both motos at Thunder Valley.

Image: Octopi Media.

After leading a majority of both motos at Thunder Valley, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper took his first career 450 class podium in AMA Pro Motocross. Having been caught and passed after 12 laps and 11 laps led, respectively, Cooper admitted post-race that it was simply a case of him getting tired.

Being in that position leading on a 450 for the first time in his career, the pace eventually caught up to Cooper. While working on pulling a big enough gap to hang on for the win, his lowered pace from managing the race eventually became the concept that bit him.

“The first moto, I felt like I was able to get away,” said Cooper. “As soon as I settled in, I kind of lost my pace and that’s where it came back to bite me. I just couldn’t pick it back up which I kind of regret now but I tried to change that for moto two to keep the hammer down. Eventually, I got pretty tired there at the end and those guys were still charging.

“You know there’s guys that are coming for you. I tried to run and hide but got caught. Overall, it was a really good day. It doesn’t feel too much different than leading a 250 moto. Just a bigger bike and a lot more to hold onto.”

Thunder Valley has always been a good track for Cooper. Getting out front right from the gate drop in both motos gave him the opportunity to see the pace of the lead group in both motos and learn valuable lessons.

But the biggest change in Cooper’s mind is that of the work that’s gone into his bike. As he continues to adapt to racing at the highest level of Pro Motocross, Cooper believes his team has helped put him in a great spot with the machine.

“I think the team has done a really good job with my bike,” said Cooper. “I give a lot of credit to them. We’ve come a long way since Pala. We’ve made some good improvements going into Hangtown, and then coming here, it was even better. I’m really satisfied with the bike, and I think we’ve made steps that way, and it’s put us in a position like this. We’re going to keep building from here.

“I was pretty disappointed when I got bumped off the podium last weekend, so this was a good redemption ride for me. It was fun to lead most of the day.”