Tomac and Cooper on Tampa
Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac secured a top-five finish despite challenging conditions last night at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. With the big picture in mind, the reigning 450SX Champion rode smart to keep it on two wheels and leave the fifth round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and SuperMotocross World Championship Series with the red plate still in his grasp. Once again, rookie Justin Cooper put in a solid ride, earning another seventh-place finish in his second outing in the premier class.
Tomac got the day off to a good start and was third on the combined timesheets, but it was a completely different track for the night show as it started raining after qualifying. It looked like the rain was done for the day, but the skies opened up again during the second heat race of the 250 class, making for tricky conditions. Tomac finished third in his heat race and then found himself seventh after the first lap of the main event. Undeterred, he advanced to fifth, where he would finish to salvage points and leave with a two-point advantage in the championship.
Cooper continued to make progress throughout the day and was sixth in qualifying. The slippery conditions made for a tough first 450 heat race, but the 2021 250SX West Champion kept it on two wheels and finished seventh to advance to the main event. Although he had a less-than-ideal 14th-gate pick, he got a great start and was fifth. Cooper rode his own race and ultimately crossed the line seventh to match his result from his debut race in Houston.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team heads back west for the rescheduled Round 2 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and the SuperMotocross World Championship Series at the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California, on February 18.
Tomac: “It was a bit of an off day for my riding. I struggled with finding a comfort zone during the night show, with the conditions being on the edge of slick and decent traction. Overall we learned a lot about those conditions for the future, and I’m happy to still have the points lead.”
Cooper: “It was another solid day. I think for my first two races to be inside the top 10 – seventh in both main events – I can’t ask for much more than this. It’s a really good start. These guys are really fast, and I’m just happy to be where I’m at in my first couple of races. It’s definitely something to learn from and build on for the future. The conditions were definitely tough. In the heat race, it was raining, and then all the way up to the main, it was sprinkling. Luckily, it stopped for the main, and the track kind of got better as it went on, and there was a little bit more traction, but the heat was a little bit scary. It was really slippery. I was riding pretty timid out there, and I was just thankful to get through that one clean. I was able to ride like myself in the main, though, and finished seventh.”
Jeremy Coker: ““It was a good day, overall, even though the results don’t show it. The track was tough with the sand, and then obviously, there was an extra element with the rain before the night show. It just added a little trickiness to it, and Eli wasn’t super comfortable with the soil out there. It’s just one of those nights where it was better not to risk it and bring it home where we did and keep the points lead. So, we’ll go to work this week and make some changes to the bike to get him a little more comfortable and come back swinging for Oakland.”
Words and image: Yamaha