Cooper Webb turned 18 at Bercy and is one of the young stars of the future in America.
The Star racing Yamaha man made his professional debut in the outdoors this year and managed a highly respectable ninth position in a deep field – but his speed was top five on numerous occasions.
Webb is now looking forward to his first supercross season and came to Bercy for some extra practice in race situations where he acquitted himself well especially on a relatively unfamiliar 450 machine.
We took the opportunity to chat with Cooper about his first season in the USA, his rivalry with Adam Cianciarulo and his Bercy experience.
MX Vice: For your first outdoor season in the pros you did pretty good but how was it in terms of your expectations going in?
Cooper Webb: I had some ups and downs. I started off very well and got a couple of fifths and a third in some motos. I struggled a bit half-way so it was a learning experience but my goal was to get some top fives in the season which I did. And it ended awesome when I got on the podium at last round at Lake Elsinore. It couldn’t have ended any better – it was a great season.
MX Vice: Your speed was good pretty much straight away, but, were you shocked at the speed of the top guys and the depth – or was it pretty much what you expected?
Cooper Webb: The speed, I felt my speed was good. But obviously Ken and Eli’s speed was pretty unmatchable. They are unbelievable. For me I had some good races and bad races. All those guys are so fast, each weekend it is so different between the guys you are racing depending on if you get a bad start, if you get a good start and the track conditions. So it was a whole lot to take in and unfortunately I was a little inconsistent but ninth overall in points is top ten so it was a good year.
MX Vice: The tracks, you only have two fifteen minute sessions to learn them in America did that hurt you a little bit? At least next year you will know how it all works.
Cooper Webb: Yeah next year I will know the tracks and how they develop so I think that will be a huge advantage, just knowing what I need to do to the bike and knowing the fast way around the track. There were certain times you could tell the guys who had been there and raced it with certain lines. So I will take that in for next year.
MX Vice: What about the heat, was that trouble for you or where you used to it?
Cooper Webb: The heat – I’m fine with heat! I grew up in North Carolina and it always very humid and hot, really there weren’t too many hot races this year. Lake Elsinore was the hottest and that was the one I actually did the best at. Unfortunately it never got hot this year so hopefully maybe next year it will be gnarlier!
MX Vice: Adam Cianciarulo was you big rival from amateurs but is it different racing him in the pros or is he still the guy you look to beat?
Cooper Webb: I think it’s different, obviously I still want to beat him but he is jsut another guy out there and you want to beat everybody. But I mean obviously when I see him I get fired up and want to beat him. I felt like when I had to pass him, which was a lot this year unfortunately because I had some bad starts, I felt I was a little better than him this year outdoors but we will see how it is in supercross.
MX Vice: Is there extra motivation because he gets all the hype, a Racer X column whereas you are a bit more under the radar?
Cooper Webb: Yeah he has always got the hype but I don’t let that stuff bother me anymore. I used to but I am used to it and the results speak louder than the media.
MX Vice: Moving on to Bercy, how are you finding the whole experience?
Cooper Webb: The Bercy experience is unbelievable. It is a lot different to back home and I have obviously never raced a supercross so I don’t know what to expect back home – but this is wild! The crowd is so into it, it is tight racing and very compact. It’s awesome the first night wasn’t the best I got taken out, but Saturday night I got a good start and battle. Me and Gautier battler all the way to finish, it was a great battle and I ended up fourth which was very good for me. My goal is to top five.
MX Vice: Is it hard to adjust to the 450?
Cooper Webb: It isn’t too hard to adjust, the new bikes are awesome. The 250 and the 450 are pretty much the same bike because a lot of things are interchangeable so it didn’t make it too bad. It’s faster and a little heavier but it’s an unreal bike. I never rode a 450 as an amateur and just raced this and the Monster cup on it so I think the more time I get on it for the future will be better.
MX Vice: And just on Supercross next year, do you know what coast you are riding and are you looking forward to making you debut under the big lights?
Cooper Webb: I am not sure what coast I am doing but I think West coast, so I will get ready for A1 and I’m excited!
Interview and photo by Jonathan McCready