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Discussion: Cooper Webb

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cooper Webb broke through at the tenth round of 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, Ironman in Indiana, as he mounted the overall podium for the first time this season. Not only did he get a trophy, he moved forward and led laps. Those are not things that he has done at all this year – a strange scenario for a man who was so dominant in 2021 Monster Energy Supercross. Webb is fifth in the championship standings now and likely to end in that position.

Webb uncovered some interesting topics in a media event on Saturday evening. Speaking in the post-race press conference for the first time this summer, he discussed moving on from Aldon Baker and joining the folks at Chad Reed’s old compound. Webb also opens up about changing a frame this week and how that was received by the higher ups at KTM Factory Racing. The comments that he made in the post-race press conference have been transcribed below, for those who prefer to read.

MX Vice: You mentioned a change with your chassis that you may get murdered for. Could you elaborate on that a little or is it behind closed doors? What did it do for you today? 

Cooper Webb: Obviously, we made a big change this week. We did a frame change and it seemed to be a lot better. I had been struggling with some set-up and this seemed to help me a lot. Yeah, it was not ideal to ask the team for it or hear their responses. Sometimes you have just got to trust your gut and know what you feel as a rider. It was good. The team made it happen and we were able to get a really good result. I felt a lot more like myself.

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Can you talk about your season, just the highs and lows? Coming off of the 450SX title, does this speak to the depth of the field in motocross or bike set-up?

This field is extremely stacked, like you said. It is totally different. Supercross is a whole different animal compared to motocross. It is tough. When you win the supercross title you are all in and do not really prepare for outdoors as much as you should. It has just been a combination… I also made changes with my programme. I have been trying to do testing and riding whilst trying to get some motos in. It is finding that mix. I feel like being comfortable on your bike is key right now, with as fast as everyone is and how fast everyone is going. I think it is just a combination of things. For me, it was a lot better today. It has been getting better and better. Today felt like a big breakthrough.

I know you are super competitive, so how do you internalise the fact that you are not on the podium? Is that incredibly difficult for you to digest and work with?

It sucks, to be completely honest. When you go from winning a lot and being on the podium every weekend to eighth, I think, at the first round… It is shitty, for sure. It’s been hard. I have been trying to keep a positive mindset and working hard to get better. Being a competitive guy, like you said, I know where I can be when things are right in supercross and motocross. I have still got some work to do on the motocross side of things, but I feel like being in the top five and a competitor like today is nice. Today gave me some confidence. I am stoked with how today went and looking to see how it goes from here.

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You mentioned changes to your programme. You are riding at the 83 Compound’ Chad Reed’s old place. What do you like about it? What has been the refreshing change for you? What have you been enjoying about being over there with the Lawrence brothers, [Joey] Savatgy, [Justin] Bogle and the others? 

I made that change after the RedBud national. I was just on the edge of being completely burnt out. I was not sure how much longer I really wanted to race, to be honest, so this has been a good change for me. Being able to ride with Jett [Lawrence] and Hunter [Lawrence], they are super-fast and talented. It brings some new life with guys who are excited to ride. I feel like we push each other and I can learn from them. Joey is really great during the week and Justin is fun to be around too.

It was mainly just a change of pace. I felt like I had done the same thing for three and a half years – I needed something else. I am not sure where it is all going to lead from here, but I have been super happy since I have been there and slowly improving. I have been getting better with my riding and technique. I am still working hard, and getting the quality riding and training in. Yeah, it has been good. It is nice to have it pay off a little bit when you have results like this.

Going back to what you said about being burnt out. Is that to do with being burnt out by Aldon [Baker]’s programme? We have seen so many things, like [Ryan] Dungey and [Ryan] Villopoto used those exact words pretty much. Was it just needing a change or was the programme starting to tire you?

I have had great success. I do not have any issues or regrets. It was a great programme. For me, like I said, doing the same thing year after year was rewarding in supercross and stuff. I have always done really well and it was great whilst I was there. I was just at that point in my career where I needed a change. Like those guys alluded to, I am only 25 years old and to be having thoughts of retirement is crazy. I felt like I needed a change. I’m still super competitive and have a great team behind me – they are super hard workers and want to work like I do. We are going to get a super good programme heading forward. I’m looking forward to the new challenges ahead.

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I have heard some people say that your strength in supercross is cutting low in the corners and going to the inside, which is not something that you can really do on outdoor tracks. Is there something that you have had to work on with your riding style to turn your strengths from supercross into something that will work outdoors?

Yeah, for sure. I was able to win an outdoor title and stuff in 250MX. Supercross has definitely come more natural to me and the way I ride. I think it has definitely come easier. I felt like I needed to work on how these guys ride by carrying a lot of momentum, standing a lot more and [using] a lot more outsides. It is a learning curve that will take time. It does not happen overnight. Hopefully I can continue to improve my outdoor riding – I still feel like I’m a good outdoor rider. Supercross comes more naturally. We will continue to try to add to our programme and get better in motocross as well.

I have heard that you have taken Max Vohland under your wing somewhat. What has that been like, if true? Do you like being a mentor and is that something that you think you have a future with?

I do not know how accurate that one is. I try to help him as much as I can on the weekends, but obviously we are there to race and do our job too. I try to help him as much as I can as a teammate, but not during the week or anything. I do not really speak to him too much and do not really know what he does. I definitely like to help the young kids, for sure.

Interview: Press Conference | Lead Image: Align Media

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