Tomac and Cooper on Houston
Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac put on another masterclass performance to return to the top step of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX podium last night at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The reigning champ’s third victory this season in four tries also marked his 47th-career victory. Justin Cooper enjoyed a good premier-class debut, finishing seventh despite challenging conditions and a stacked 450 class. Unfortunately, Dylan Ferrandis crashed early in the main event, which drew out the red flag, and did not restart the race.
Tomac showed strength straight away, qualifying third and finishing second in his heat race. When the gate dropped for the main event, he came out swinging and grabbed the holeshot, but the race was red-flagged after his teammate Ferrandis went down. He continued to lead the way but was unable to break away after the staggered restart and found himself under pressure from a championship rival. Tomac put his head down and set a blistering pace to remain unchallenged en route to his third victory of the season and expanded his lead in the championship to seven points.
Making his premier class debut at the fourth round of the season, Cooper continued to make progress throughout the day. He qualified 14th and finished seventh in the first 450 heat race, giving him a less-than-ideal gate pick. Undeterred, the New Yorker was 13th after the first lap and broke into the top 10 by Lap 3. The 2021 250SX West Champion kept his cool and ran his own race, making a last-lap pass to cross the line seventh.
Ferrandis got the day off to a great start, leading the way for the team by taking the runner-up spot in qualifying. He finished fourth in the first heat race, making for a difficult start in the main event with the eighth gate pick. The Frenchman was battling inside the top 10 and unfortunately crashed hard early in the race, drawing out the red flag. Ferrandis was evaluated on-site by the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit and, thankfully, was okay. He will seek further evaluation, and an update on his return will follow at a later date.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team heads to the Sunshine State for the fifth round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and the SuperMotocross World Championship Series at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on February 11.
Tomac: It was a great rebound race for us. This was a huge deal to come back from last weekend’s crash and to take the win here. You really had to focus on the timing and line selection tonight. This was the highest-speed track that we’ve had all year, so I’m just really pumped to see this motorcycle work in all these different conditions. Tonight was pretty hard packed, really high speed, and the other rounds we had were basically the opposite, so we are off and running strong.”
Cooper: “Yeah, it was good. We got better and better throughout the day. There is a lot of learning going on right now, so it’s great to get the first one out of the way. The goal was to be around the top 10, and we achieved that. I finished seventh and even made a last-lap pass and felt good toward the end of the race. I just felt like I had a good flow and wasn’t pushing over my head, but I wasn’t riding too slow, either. Everything came a lot easier for me in the main event, even though the track so was messed up. For my first 450 race, I’m just glad to click my laps off like that and be that consistent, and work my way through the pack. I’m looking forward to Tampa next weekend.”
Jeremy Cooker: ““It was the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The high was a phenomenal race for Eli. It was incredible. He had a lot of pressure in the beginning, and he did what he had to do to beat the competition. It was an awesome ride and a good way to come back from last weekend. It was also the lowest of lows. Unfortunately, it’s part of the sport, but to see one of your guys crash the way Dylan did and to see him lying there was pretty tough. Fortunately, when I got to him, he was able to open his eyes and looked at me and said my name, and it was a huge relief to see him stand up and walk away.”
Words and image: Yamaha