Who impressed: Atlanta 3

Cooper Webb: This was Cooper Webb showing what makes him great. He wasn’t the fastest, trying to hold off Eli Tomac for second and then suddenly he’s sees Roczen just in front of him, gets inspired and wills himself to the win by somehow picking up the pace and risking it all in the whoops as Roczen played it safe. Webb wants to win at all costs, this means everything to him and under pressure he delivers especially when he sees a chance at a win, no matter how small that chance is. This was a champion’s ride under title pressure.

Webb said of his pivotal win: “I have to give it up to my team, they gave me a competitive bike tonight – we went back and figured some things out. Honestly, I made so many mistakes and I really didn’t ride well at all but I dug deep. I saw Kenny out front and he was riding awesome. I was trying to do everything I can and when he made that mistake, I saw blood in the water and I went for it. I just wanted to win.”  

Aaron Plessinger: The moustached Yamaha rider rode superbly in Atlanta, giving Webb plenty to think about and even when Webb and Tomac passed he didn’t let them away easily trying to go with tham and pass back. There are rumours Plessinger is being looked at by a number of teams for next season with his contract up and he could even be Cooper Webb’s teammate, Plessinger has delivered big time this year, sits fifth in a very competitive championship and has earned another shot at a factory ride.

“It started off a little hairy,” commented Plessinger. “I qualified thirteenth, but we made quite a few changes throughout the day, and we turned it around after practice. We went out for the heat race and got a good start, and ended up third. So that put me with a fifth-place gate pick for the main. I knew I had to get a really good start, and that’s what I did; I pulled the holeshot. Kenny (Roczen) got me after the first lap. Then at the end, I was right behind Eli (Tomac) in fourth. It sucks that I couldn’t get back up there for the podium, but I’m happy with my riding, and I’m happy with the way I started the race.”

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“The track was so rough, and the whoops were gnarly. There was one little rut, a little goat trail through the whole set that I was staying with during the race. It definitely was demanding, but my fitness is pretty good, and I stayed up there. I wish I could’ve got Eli in the end, but we can only build off of this and bring the momentum into Salt Lake City.”

Justin Cooper: With carnage all around him Justin Cooper stayed calm, nailed the start both times and got the points he needed to all but secure his first AMA title. Cooper didn’t even go after Nate Thrasher for the win recognising he didn’t feel comfortable enough on the track to push the pace that much, maturely recognising his title position and collecting the points, seeing the big picture.

Cooper commented: “The last one here in Atlanta went pretty good. The track was pretty tricky, especially the whoops. It challenged us all day, and it was hard to find my flow, so second place is awesome. I’m glad to get out of this one safe and that I was able to get two good starts tonight with that red flag to put myself in a good spot. I made that mistake early, so I was just riding behind Nate and didn’t really feel the need to push tonight. He was riding awesome, so hats off to him. It was a great night for us points-wise! We get a weekend off before the East-West Shootout. I’m excited for that and am looking to go to Salt Lake City in two weeks to try and wrap this thing up.”

Nate Thrasher: Yet again Thrasher went to the LCQ and yet again he won the main event in a run-away victory! It was another great ride and he passed Justin Cooper to do it and setting a pace no-one could match. Thrasher came from nowhere to win his first race but he has been on the pace since highlighting the importance of confidence to maximising potential. Thrasher is executing on that potential right now and should be a title contender next year.

“It was amazing, said Thrasher. “The LCQ wasn’t part of the plan, but I went down after the start of the heat race and just kept chugging away to get back into 11th to get me a good gate pick for the LCQ. I grabbed the holeshot and just tried to stay calm and cool because the LCQ is a little nerve-racking. I put some solid laps in and tried to keep myself from getting super tired because I knew I had a long Main Event coming up next. We had a red flag, but I ended up getting a great start both times. Then Justin made a little mistake, and I capitalized on it and tried to put in solid laps and ended up with the win. It feels so great. We have got to keep it going.”

Article: Jonathan McCready

Images: Align media/ Yamaha