A Matthes Report: Cooper Webb

Steve Matthes gets Cooper Webb to open up

· 6 minutes read

The deal of the day on 24MX.

Maybe you don't listen to the PulpMX Show and that's ok. I mean, we just had MX Vice's Lewis Phillips on it so, like, it has to be good, right? 

This past Monday we had Phil Nicoletti and Jason Weigandt from Racer X in-studio and, because Red Bull KTM's Cooper Webb won, we had get him back on. Nicoletti was stoked; him and Coop are buddies and they rode together last summer a bunch. I sat next to Phil in the press box and there was no one, maybe not even Webb's parents, who was more excited to see Webb win his first 450SX race.

It took longer than most predicted for Cooper Webb to get a 450SX win (ConwayMX)

 We called Coop up for the show to get into the race and his off-season on the new bike and new training programme with Aldon Baker. Lots to unpack when it comes to the win. What does it mean? Is Webb a potential race winner every week?

The series could get even better if this were to happen. Webb gave us a great interview and I thought I'd rank the best quotes he gave us. Check out the latest show for the whole interview please and thank you.

"I know it was at a 250F level but for me the thing that I always go back to is, and you can call it this or call it that, that GP in Charlotte. To run with [Jeffrey] Herlings and get the overall there and to see him now… For me, I look at that and I say, "I beat that guy at one point." Sure, right now, I might not beat him, but I have the potential to. There is no reason why I cannot get back to that or get in his realm again at least. I think for me, that has been the biggest motivator and knowing he's the same age and on the same team now."

Thoughts: Well, he is not wrong. That was a great day for Webb and it is interesting to me that he is the first big time USA rider that I can think of who has dropped Herlings name as pretty much a best-rider-I-can-think-of-right-now milestone. Webb makes a direct connection to himself and getting back to "that" and "that" is beating Herlings. I like it!

Cooper Webb sits third in the 450SX standings, heading into Oakland (ConwayMX)

 "I think for me, regardless, even if they [Yamaha] would have thrown the moon at me, I had my mind made up of where I wanted to be. For me, there were no hard feelings. It's business. I get where they are coming from. They invested a lot and didn't get much in return, so I see where they are coming from."

Thoughts: Coop made it clear the Yamaha thing did not work for him and he was out of there. But the, "They invested a lot and didn't get much in return" line was right. I mean, he was hurt a lot and there were some podiums in there but, yeah, a rider saying that the team he rode for did not get much in return? Now that is honesty. 

"At the time, they [Yamaha] showed interest. To be honest with you they had only offered me a one-year deal a lot less money, which I anticipated. I felt like a one-year deal for me was not what I wanted, especially when I had other offers for more money and longer-term deals." 

Thoughts: A rider taking us behind the curtain to tell us how contract negotiations went is awesome. Honestly, I cannot believe Yamaha wanted him back either. Maybe it was a, "Hey, let's make him an offer he will turn down but we will look like good guys" type of thing? Not sure, but this was a cool nugget. Webb took more money and an extra year at KTM.

"It was a big risk I think for mainly Aldon [Baker], because I do not think I really knew him and obviously from the outside looking in he probably thought I was a shit head. Didn't want to train with them, but I am being forced to because KTM is making me, and who knows where my head is at. Is the kid lazy? There were big adjustments. When I got there, I am going to be honest, I was not as fit as I think obviously he thought and even myself. That was a big adjustment for sure." 

Thoughts: Webb is talking about moving to Florida and training with Aldon Baker. Cooper said that Baker, "Probably thought he was a shit head" and that is awesome. Then Webb admitted he was not as fit as Baker wanted! Like, seriously, how great is this stuff?

Oakland was the site of Cooper Webb's first 450SX podium finish (ConwayMX)

"But another thing, I think the biggest thing, is the practicing. Until this year, I have practiced at 70%-80% my whole career. On race day I just step it up. I ride to my potential. When I got there, I was getting absolutely smoked. He could not believe it and was like, "Dude, what are you doing? You are three seconds a lap off on our freaking supercross track. What are you doing?" I just told them, "Don't worry. Once I get to the race I'll be good." He was like, "No. That is not the way it is going to be. You need to practice hard and race hard. That was a big adjustment, even for myself." 

Thoughts: Webb's admission that his practice habits were kosher with the Baker crew is interesting. Three seconds a lap is a lot for sure and I imagine it was a pretty hard reality check for Webb. Baker's guys do run through some intense motos, Ihave seen it firsthand. Again, Webb just laying it all out on the table.

"It's funny, because that's what I kind of jokingly told the guys at Phoenix. I said, “I just need to quit being a you-know-what. They were like, "No, we think we can improve it." You can tinker with the bike so much and I just got to the point where I was like, "I just need to figure it out." Technique. The bike is such a good bike that I can ride this thing with any suspension you put on it. It was cool to just go back to the original and go back to what I rode in boot camp all year. If I have to adjust a few clickers, then that is what we'll do, but nothing crazy like I did in Phoenix. It was good. Even though the result was bad, I learned really to quit screwing around with the bike. Ride the thing." 

Thoughts: As a former mechanic the line, "Even though the result was bad, I learned really to quit screwing around with the bike," was basically like, amazing, to me. Wow. A rider that realises he can make up for what the bike is not doing right. A rider that realises you cannot set a motorcycle up perfectly for the whoops and for the turns. QUIT SCREWING AROUND AND RIDE THE THING… More beautiful words have never been spoken by a factory rider.

Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: ConwayMX

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