Justin Cooper - Motivated and Mad
Posted on September 22, 2022
Without question, the biggest pressure on any team during this weekends 2022 Monster Energy Motocross of Nations is on Team USA and more so their MX2 rider. We know the history, the wins, the losses and the celebration either between the US fans or the Euro fans when those wins and losses are handed out.
One rider who has felt the pain of defeat at the Motocross of Nations is young American Justin Cooper, a former 250 supercross champion and rider who is considered probably the fastest MX2 rider in USA.
When Cooper made his debut for Team USA at the 2019 MXoN, he arrived at a very rough Assen circuit and quickly felt at home. Cooper was quickest in the free practice with a time of 1.44.803 and just behind him was Calvin Vlaanderen with a 1.45.451. Cooper also came out and won the MX2 qualification race, with a six second lead over Vlaanderen and Aussie Kyle Webster a surprise third. I think everyone was impressed with his Saturday performance and only an unfortunate crash with team-mate Jason Anderson on Sunday wrecked his weekend. Finishing with 25-29 and a busted-up hand meant he went home wondering what might have been.
Cooper finished fourth in this year’s AMA 250 motocross championship with 415 points ahead of the other top American riders R. J. Hampshire, Max Vohland, Seth Hammaker and Nate Thrasher, who finished 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th in the points. Cooper started the year slowly, but came on really strong at seasons end, although he also struggled at times finishing with 3-3-6-5-9-4-5-1 for the final four rounds and against what isn’t the deepest AMA 250 class, that might leave some doubt about where he is against the GP boys (and due to the age rule in Europe, most are very young men).
“It’s Team USA,” Cooper said mid-season. “It’s in the USA this year. Honestly, I don’t feel like I deserve the spot, how the first part of the season has gone, and I respect that. I’m finding my stride again. I haven’t been talked about, that’s up to them. I’m ready for the task, but that’s up to them.”
At this years Redbud National Cooper finished with 7-9 results and was beaten by Joe Shimoda, Hunter Lawrence, Stilez Robertson, R. J. Hampshire, Levi Kitchen and Ty Masterpool, with Jett Lawrence down in ninth overall with a 35-1 score. Not something to build confidence for Cooper, but as I mentioned above, he did improve as the season and his early season injuries improved.
“I think it's helped the motivation being in the talk for MXdN and it's just helped. I think my preparation for each race made me want to be better each day and nothing's changed it. It's not like, ‘oh, I'm on the team and now I'll go out and I'll be good with getting seventh’. I still want to win, nothing's going to change there. That's just an added bonus. I was pretty pissed off; it didn't make any sense to me. It's pretty crazy how easy it is for people to forget. I was pissed off for sure.”
Not know as a rider who comes from the back after a bad start and somebody who does get bad starts, he might be the wink link in Team USA, but like this years AMA 250 motocross championships depth, the depth in the MX2 class at Redbud this weekend won’t be that deep, with no AMA 250 champion Jett Lawrence, or MX2 World champion Tom Vialle. Also not involved will be MX2 runner-up Jago Geerts or a lot of the leading AMA and FIM 250 guys. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cooper do what he did at Assen in 2019, but he does have to come up against Hunter Lawrence and Joe Shimoda, not to mention a very good sand rider in Max Anstie. Plenty of question marks and come this weekend, some of those questions will be answered.
Justin Cooper - Bio
Before making his pro debut in 2017 at his home race, Unadilla MX, in Upstate New York, Justin Cooper added two AMA National Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Championships and nine major amateur motocross championships to his resume. He was also crowned the 2017 AMA Arenacross Lites East Champion and was awarded the Nicky Hayden AMA Motocross Horizon Award.
In his first season with the team, Cooper impressed with a third overall finish in the 2018 250MX championship. From there, his forward momentum continued. In 2019, he finished second overall in the 250SX East Championship with six podiums and went on to take his first overall Pro Motocross win in Florida, ending the year third in the 250MX Championship. The New Yorker’s efforts earned him a coveted seat in the 2019 MXoN U.S.A. team competing on the world stage.
Cooper scored his first Supercross win at the 2020 season opener, Anaheim I, and ended the year second in the 250SX West Championship. After coming back from a pre-season injury, he made a late-season charge in the Pro Motocross 250MX Championship, returning to the top of the podium at Thunder Valley to finish fifth in the standings.
Cooper enters his fifth year with the team and is coming off an impressive 2021 season. After taking the 250SX West crown in Supercross, he backed it up with a great outdoor season. He came just shy of the title in the end, but led the way in qualifying, holeshots and scored seven moto wins, and never missed the overall podium. Cooper now has his eyes set on 2022 and adding more number-one plates to his resume.
|Date of Birth||31-08-1997|
|Place of Birth||Cold Spring Harbor, NY|
|Hobbies||Basketball, Snowboarding, Cycling|
|2021||AMA Supercross 250SX West Champion, 2nd Overall AMA 250MX Championship|
|2020||2nd Overall AMA 250SX West Championship, 5th Overall AMA 250MX Championship|
|2019||2nd Overall AMA 250SX East Championship, 3rd Overall AMA 250MX Championship|
|2018||3rd Overall AMA 250MX Championship|