Interview by: Geoff Meyer – Above Photo by: Chase Yocom MX2 Overall Podium – Cooper Webb (center), Jeffrey Herlings (left), Austin Forkner (right)
What is there not to love about Star Racing / Yamaha’s Cooper Webb? This kid is just a racer—as old school as you could get. I could see him banging bars with 1970’s bar banging legends like Bob Hannah, or Heikki Mikkola no problem. His performance last night at Charlotte Motor Speedway was something special. Despite him not being a GP rider—and me of course being a big GP fan—I loved the way he went about his win.
Check out video replay of Cooper Webb and Jeffrey Herlings moto 2 battle for the overall win:
When Red Bull / KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings sat in a safe second place in the second MX2 moto and looked assured to win the GP, it was easy to ignore Webb, who was fighting his way through the pack after sitting around 20th place in the first lap. As many have learned in the past though—including the massive crowd at the Ernee circuit in France last year at the MXoN—Cooper Webb doesn’t give up for anything. And despite even Webb thinking he might have to settle for a top three place after his poor start, his fighting attitude made sure he battled right up until the end of the race.
We caught up with Webb and asked him about his Saturday.
Cooper, that was a great performance. Can you talk me through it please?
After the first one I was a little bit disappointed. I think I didn’t ride as I should have ridden. Obviously I felt I rode ok, but Jeffrey [Herlings] capitalized on a couple of things. I knew what I needed to work on, and I knew I needed a start. But that didn’t happen, and I almost went down on the start. I knew it was going to be a tough race, and I was actually just hoping to get on the podium after being nearly last. To come through the pack like that…and I saw I was catching and catching them. The track was a little hard to pass, but once I caught them I knew passing them would be hard. I was able to do that and I was pretty stoked on that. I was right on Austin [Forkner] and was able to pass him. In the end it was a really bad ass race, and I think that was the best I have ever ridden. To end my 250 career with that result—in front of my home crowd—was really awesome.
Winning at home, in front of your home crowd and beating the guy many feel is the fastest 250 riders in the world, that must be right up there with your best win ever?
Oh, absolutely! I think this is one of my best wins. Obviously your first win in your career is special, but I would put this right up there with my first ever outdoor win at Muddy Creek and my first ever Supercross win at Phoenix. It was pretty special. The crowd was behind me on every fence line and they kept me going and helped me to not quit. I would rank it right up there. To be able to pass and beat Jeffrey was pretty good. He obviously beat me in the first moto, but it was great.
Will we see you back at Charlotte in 2017?
I am sure I will be racing again next year after an event like today. I am sure I will be back and the home fans were unreal. There is no better feeling when 70 or 80% of the people are screaming for you.
What happened in that first moto when Austin went down?
It was really weird. I saw Austin making mistakes, and he ended up crashing. I didn’t go down, but I got a little caught up with him. Then me and Jeffrey were drag racing through that first corner—that Nascar styled corner. That first one Jeffrey laid it on me, and it was nice to get him back in the second one.
What did you think of the track?
After all that rain the circuit was spectacular. I think for next year I am sure they will change a few things. It was really fast and with as good as dirt as we have, I think it could have been prepped a lot better. I think it could have been a really nice east coast styled rutty track, but it was more like a west coast or maybe even a European style track. Overall it was good.
How did you see this event before the racing started?
I thought it would be really exciting. I knew Jeffrey had to win a championship, but I knew it would be an exciting event in general. All new track that nobody has ridden, at Charlotte Motor Speedway and a place nobody had ridden before. I mean we had the two best 250 riders in the world coming together, and everybody got to see it. There is always the question who is better, the GP guys or the Americans, and you will never get that from just one race. You need a full series to find that out.
I knew you mention on Thursday you were excited for this event.
For me, I have been coming here watching Nascar races here since I was a little kid, and to race here for the first time, against the best of the best in the GP riders, thats pretty exciting. I think the difference racing here is I will have a lot of family and friends here. I have friends that I went to school with.