Cooper Closes Out Pro Motocross Season on the Podium

Cooper Closes Out Pro Motocross Season on the Podium

05.09.2022: Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racingís Justin Cooper overcame extreme temperatures and a tough track to cap off the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with a podium finish at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. His 3-3 score for third overall helped secure hi


Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper overcame extreme temperatures and a tough track to cap off the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with a podium finish at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. His 3-3 score for third overall helped secure his fourth-place spot in the 250MX championship standings.

 

Teammate Nate Thrasher earned his eighth top-10 finish of the season in ninth (14-8), while newcomer Haiden Deegan raced to his best finish of 13th overall (16-10). Matt Leblanc continued to make forward strides after his return from injury, but an early exit in Moto 2 pushed him down to 21st overall (19-34).



Riders were met with punishing conditions with temperatures in the triple digits in Pala, California. Cooper came out to the line sporting his Motocross of Nations graphics that he’ll be using in a few weeks as the MX2 rider for Team USA. He started the day second in qualifying and ready for a good day.


As the gate dropped for a shortened Moto 1 of 25 minutes plus two laps, Cooper found himself up with the front runners and settling into fourth. He held the spot for four laps before moving back to fifth. The New Yorker maintained a good pace and kept fourth in his sights and then made the pass on Lap 10.



With third out of touch, he conserved energy in the extreme heat, but then a mistake at the front brought him within reach of third, and he took the final podium spot on the last lap. Cooper was fired up for the second moto and pulled out his ninth holeshot of the season. He moved into second on Lap 2, and fell back to third a few laps later but was able to hold on to the position and go 3-3 on the day to close out the season on the podium in third.



Thrasher entered the final round at Fox Raceway coming off one of his best rides of the season. He was hoping to keep up the momentum and started it off with a fourth-place finish in qualifying. Unfortunately, he would have an uphill battle after his Moto 1 start saw him come around the first lap in 20th. He was trying to quickly make his way through the pack and was up to 15th in just a few laps, but was unable to make up much more time on the riders in front of him and settled for 14th.



The second moto nearly mirrored the first moto, with Thrasher coming around the first lap in 21st. This time he was able to get up to 14th by the third lap and continued to climb up the order. As others struggled with the heat, Thrasher was continually putting in fast laps, and by the end of the shortened moto, he made it up to eighth, placing him ninth overall.



Following his rollercoaster day last weekend at Ironman Raceway during his professional debut, Deegan was looking to bounce back and break the top 10 at his home track. Despite the challenging conditions, he had a good qualifying, earning the eighth spot and a good gate pick.



Deegan didn’t get the start he was looking for and was near teammate Thrasher in the top 20 on the opening lap. The young rider was steady as he made his passes in the opening laps, moving into 16th by Lap 6 where he would ultimately finish. Deegan enjoyed a much better start in Moto 2 in 13th and would find a good pace that saw him claim 10th - his best finish and a personal goal accomplished.



Leblanc got a good start in the opening moto and was battling in the top five before getting shuffled to seventh on the first lap. He tried to maintain the speed in the brutal heat but moved down the leaderboard and finished the race in 19th. Leblanc had his starts dialed and again found himself in the top five in Moto 2, but a crash early in the race had him withdrawing from the race. His 19-24 awarded him 21st overall for the day.



The Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 250 team will be getting ready over the next few weeks as they support Cooper and his efforts as the MX2 rider at the Motocross of Nations at RedBud MX on September 23 - 25.
 



Jensen Hendler – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 250 Team Manager


“Overall, it was a good end to the season, with Justin finishing on the podium. It’s been a tough few rounds coming back from his illness, so it’s great to see him back on track. Nate pushed on despite a couple of bad starts and ended the day ninth overall. Haiden had a good day and showed a lot of speed for just his second pro event, and he finished in the top 10 in the second moto. Unfortunately, it was another rough day for Matt, but he made a big improvement with his starts. It was brutal out there today. I’m proud of our team. We look forward to the Motocross of Nations in a few weeks.”




Justin Cooper – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing


“It was an up and down season, so I’m happy to end it with a podium. The race was super demanding physically and mentally so it was good to get back on the box. Now the focus shifts to Motocross of Nations; we’re looking to have a good one there and fight for the win for Team USA.”





Nate Thrasher – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing


“I did what I could to finish out the year strong, but it was a tough one today. I’m looking forward to the off-season to keep building and come back stronger next year. Thanks to the team for all of their support and hard work.”




Haiden Deegan – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing


“It was a good day. We know we need to work on starts since they weren’t the greatest. I know I only did two rounds, but I'm glad I was able to end it with a top 10 since that was one of my goals. Overall, I’m really happy with the day. It was a good experience, and hopefully, next year for Pro Motocross we can come out swinging.”



Matt Leblanc – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing


“I had good starts today, but I was still not where I should be coming back from injury. I rode decent but went down in the second moto and was banged up pretty good. There was nothing broken, thankfully, but I was in too much pain to ride the rest of the moto. The last race of the season is a little bitter, but we’re going to move on and focus on next season.”
 
 



Yamaha Motor Europe also photo

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05.09.2022 / MaP

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