Needing only to finish the AMA Supercross finale in Salt Lake City to win his second championship, Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb routes an impressive field in dramatic fashion
May 5, 2021
By Mitch Boehm
Photos: Jeff Kardas
The conventional wisdom said play it safe. Just finish 19th or better in the Salt Lake City AMA Supercross finale, it said, and the title — your second — is all yours. Do not get mixed up with the likes of Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger, or any number of “something to prove and nuthin’ to lose” competitors.
Many figured savvy ol’ Roger DeCoster, KTM’s racing head honcho — and a five-time world champ himself — might have told Webb just that before the night’s action began.
But no. Coop was fast in qualifying (5th), fast in his heat race (2nd), and absolutely blazing in the 450SX Main. And while it took a while for the new champ’s dominance to fully assert itself in that final Main event of the season, Coop left no doubt by the end of the night that he and he alone deserved champion status.
Coop gated right up front in the Main and, for the first handful of laps, absolutely hounded Roczen, who needed to win and, basically, have Webb DNF for him to grab the title. The crowd — a Covid-limited sell out of approximately 25,000 — was on its feet, as were the contingent of KTM brass I was sitting with, and one had to wonder (as we all did) if Webb was playing things a bit risky.
When he backed off and let Roczen gain a little (and let an on-fire Chase Sexton go by) everyone breathed a little easier. But it wouldn’t last, as Coop began pushing in the race’s latter stage, passing Rozcen (who’d been passed by Sexton, and who was fading) and, finally, getting by Sexton with a handful of laps to go for the dramatic win.
“It’s been a heck of a year with everything in the world going on,” Webb said afterward. “We just dug deep and stayed the course. It’s been an incredible journey, a hard-fought season, lots of hard races and a lot of good and bad, but this is all worth it right here. Two-time champion is incredible, [and] to get the win tonight is just the cherry on top.”