Watching Cooper Webb turn his Lucas Oil Pro motocross season around on Saturday was déjà vu, as it reminded me of his amazing turnaround during the Monster Energy Supercross series. At the pre-race press conference prior to the opening round at Anaheim, there were 11 riders featured who could potentially be the 2019 Supercross Champion. Cooper Webb wasn’t on that stage and nobody considered it a slight or oversight. His first two 450 Supercross seasons had been less than impressive. While most expected improvements, I doubt anyone, including Webb, expected he would end up as the 2019 Supercross Champion.
Webb’s turnaround in Supercross had many expecting his newfound speed and confidence would translate into being an instant contender outdoors. One of the most respected analysts in the sport, Daniel Blair, picked Webb as the title favorite prior to the start of the outdoor series. Unfortunately for Blair, the first seven rounds of the series were unimpressive, but Webb’s dominant win at round seven in Millville put his competitors on notice. In motocross, with two motos and 50 points available at each round, things can change in a hurry. As we head into round eight it’s hard to imagine Webb contending for the outdoor title, but stranger things have happened. While 54 points is almost insurmountable it’s not impossible!
On two occasions Jeff Emig has overcome huge odds to win championships. In 1992 and 1996 Emig ended up champion after overcoming major deficits. In 2007, Grant Langston came back from behind to claim the title, and in 2010 Trey Canard made up 57 points on his way to the championship. Significant point leads usually lead to a championship but there are no guarantees. If you think Webb’s newfound confidence won’t have championship implications, you might want to rethink that opinion. Looking at the riders in front of Webb, they aren’t exactly on solid footing like champions of the past.
If Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, or Ricky Carmichael had this lead I would say the season is over; but Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, and Ken Roczen all have shown weaknesses this season. Tomac is bewildering to say the least. In the history of the sport nobody has had such unpredictable performances. At this point a “Tomac” moment could happen at any time and with Webb bringing his no prisoners attitude, Tomac could crumble at any moment…or win in dominant fashion. Who knows? Musquin is consistently fast but has a knack for finding himself underneath his motorcycle. At this point in the series it might already be too late for the likeable Frenchman. Roczen is a proven champion, but is currently dealing with an illness and Webb has proven to be his kryptonite.
Webb has the psychological edge on all three of his competitors. Roczen goes from world class to scared rookie when pressured by Webb. At Millville Webb used one of the oldest tricks in the book, revving his bike violently while showing Roczen his front fender. It appeared to rattle Roczen so badly he nearly fell on his own. A seasoned pro like Roczen should never fall for such a basic trick, this should only work on rookies and inexperienced riders. Webb has owned Roczen since the infamous “finger pistol” incident back in January at Anaheim.
As for Tomac, Webb broke him during the first moto at Millville. Normally when Tomac brings his late moto charges he easily overtakes guys and establishes his superiority. Webb responded differently, choosing to fight Tomac tooth and nail until Tomac was forced to accept second place. What Webb did to Tomac is exactly what Webb did to Musquin multiple times during the Supercross championship. Webb has a self-belief beyond what seems logical, and most champions share this characteristic.
Webb’s mental strength and take no prisoners attitude should have his competitors scared. Clearly Roczen has noticed. They need to stop his momentum at Washougal because if he uses this confidence to take another pair of moto wins he could very well go on a run and win out this season. Washougal is crucial, not just for the outdoor series. Heading into the 2020 Supercross season could be daunting if Webb finishes this season as the alpha dog.
This week I am flying to Portland for the annual pre-race at PIR, then taking in the PulpMX/RacerX live show on Friday. Jason Thomas, Steve Matthes and the crew put on a hell of a show, if you are in the area I strongly recommend taking in the entertainment. I believe they will also be debuting the 2020 Fly Racing lineup. If you see me holler out “Cooksey!” I love bench racing and meeting fellow enthusiasts.
Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.