Webb and Roczen - Experts Tip
Posted on April 06, 2021
We all have our opinion, but what do the experts think of this whole AMA supercross championship battle between Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen. How about we ask some of the former champions and present day MXGP riders what they think of the whole battle.
Jeremy McGrath, David Vuillemin, Ryan Dungey, Jeffrey Herlings, Jeremy Seewer, Mitch Evans, and Shaun Simpson give their opinion, some you might have read before here on mxlarge, some maybe not, but interesting to put all together anyway.
One thing is for sure, we will all be watching this Sunday morning as the two battle for the prize of the AMA supercross championship at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and it will be something special.
I’m watching Ken Roczen get abused by Cooper Webb really. He’s not standing up for himself out there and I think the reason why the second half has been a little tough is because he won’t take a stand. Ken Roczen, he wants to embarrass these guys, right? He wants to be clean; he wants to be fast, he’s Mr smooth, Mr Clean, gets great holeshots. But you know what? These guys are taking advantage of him out there and he needs to make a stand. In my mind he needs to punt Webb one good time to make him understand that he’s not going to take that stuff. It only takes once, sometimes unfortunately that’s what it takes but he’s going to keep having those things happen until he takes a stand. He needs to toughen up a little bit and make a couple of aggressive moves and point out that he’s not going to be taken advantage like that.
It looks like it’s coming down to these two. It’s going to come down to positioning yourself right off the start. Getting good starts. Being up front. We saw Ken come from behind (in Orlando 2). He got to fourth, which was pretty respectable, but as you could see Cooper was already up front and was able to get the lead and just maintain that. It is getting more competitive and there has been a little more inconsistency over the past three years,” Dungey said. “This year we’re seeing more consistency out of the riders. You’ve got to win and win consistently. I think you need five to six wins, but the biggest thing is not having bad nights. To Cooper’s credit, last year he was sick coming into the first couple of rounds and that really put him in a hole. Then he had that big crash in Dallas. He probably could have been there and won the championship had he not had those bad races. If you can get rid of those bad races and consistently finish in the top five, mostly on the podium and winning races, you’re going to be there in the end.
From round one, I thought it was crazy how stacked it was. Like almost 15 guys could go for the win, but now it is the top three or four. The last one in Arlington Barcia, Tomac, Roczen and Webb, to go that speed at that track for that long, it is insane. The level is amazing, and the racing has been good. We also see the fight between Roczen, and Webb and I love Webb playing those little mind games he plays. It makes it more interesting, and it has been fun to watch for sure.
Actually, yes, I do. I follow until now every race. I watch it Sunday morning and I never check the results, so I can watch it on Sunday morning, and it is still exciting. I still have a small supercross track in my garden and I do like supercross, but you have to go to the US when you are 15 years old otherwise the train is gone. Yes, and since Hunter (Lawrence) left Europe, I probably have contact ever day. We message a lot and we still have a really good connection and its super cool and I look forward to the day we see each other again. Overall, I am more a Kenny fan, because I want him to win it, but hats off to Cooper, because what he has done in the last few races is just insane. He has an answer for everything and how is it going to go, there are not many chances left for Kenny if Cooper keeps doing what he is doing.
Cooper is very good, but he is not the best. If you ask me who's the best in technique, I'd say Ken Roczen, probably. There are things Cooper does that I don't really like, especially when you see him take really tight turns. He rode better at Arlington 2, but in some events in Orlando, I didn't understand why he was taking the corners so low when he was on his own on the track; he's losing speed. The good thing about Cooper is that he puts himself in good positions every time to score the best result. At Daytona, it was an 'off' day for him, but he managed to overtake Plessinger in the final lap to finish second. He took 2 points from Ken Roczen and lost only 3 points on Tomac. What is impressive is that he can adapt during the finals. He knows what he's doing wrong and he's changing that; he changes his trajectories, he doesn't get stuck in a rut forever, he's creative, he makes the right decisions. On Tuesday, we saw him in the whoops, he started by jumping them, then dribbling them, then dribbling the beginning and jumping the end, then jumping the beginning and dribbling the end, he tried everything before doing what worked for him, dribbling at the beginning, then 3-3, then inside. It probably wasn't the fastest way, but for him it was the best. There was a triple with reception on the table after crossing the starting straight, he didn't do it at the start of the race and Tomac caught up with him there by skipping the triple. Cooper felt that Eli was coming back in that portion, and we saw him go outside to do that triple after 6 or 7 laps. It allowed him to maintain his gap a little better, because each time, Eli came back on him. Even when Webb doesn't do things right, he makes it work. At Orlando 2, in the whoops, he jumped them really fast unlike the other drivers. He dribbled the first and jumped 3 and then 4 and came out of the whoops, it was top.
I don't understand how Roczen could be angry with Daytona. If you call Roczen and Cooper gets inside at the start, you have to expect it. Webb, he's riding against you for the championship. Webb's strategy was good, you have to make your opponent slow down, lose positions. He didn't touch it, he didn't do anything. Watch Jeff Emig's videos in the 90s, he would take us out in the straw bales whenever he had the opportunity.
Cooper does little things right to left that make him better because he can adapt to track changes, he finds trajectories or ruts that are better quickly. We see him go inside, outside, the others are afraid to change, to look on the track.
What I don't like too much, or don't understand about Roczen, is that he ignites during interviews, but not on the track. When he's upset, he says, "I'm ready, we're gone, let's go," but five minutes before, the guy was on the track. Show us you're on the track, you don't have to show it on TV, it won't earn you more points. If you're upset and you hate guts than at Webb, you have to show us on the track, you have to ride like Barcia, more aggressively. Justin Barcia, it's clear that he wants to overtake the drivers in front of him, I don't see that in Kenny.
For the championship, it's not done, it's still 50/50. Obviously, you'd rather have a 12-point lead than a behind, but Ken can turn the tide and 12 points is nothing. Cooper is in his zone, he starts in front, he rides well, he is focused, he is well prepared, his bike works really well for his riding style even if it is not the best bike in the whoops.
It is my Sunday morning thing. You will know as well having kids but staying up in the night is overrated. We do enough of that with children. I watch all the practice and that ends about 10pm or something, then I go to bed, and wake up Sunday morning and the first thing I do is watch the night program. I watch it with Angus over breakfast and I won’t look at the results, it is the highlight of my week at the moment. With what is going on in our World, it feels like they are living in a different life somewhere and they are getting to race, doing their job and making money. It is frustrating, but it is motorbikes going around a track and the racing has been great. It is starting to lean towards one rider, or maybe two with Roczen and Webb and it has been good watching the Lawrence brothers in the 250 class and Max Anstie is back in it. Max has been making events and doing nothing stupid. It is nice to look into how skilful these guys are, and it is my favourite thing of the week.
I believe Cooper is so mentally strong, he tried to get inside his competitors head, like that pit board just before the gate dropped, he puts red plate and all those things. Kenny got some points deducted and it looked like he was going to get it done, and there are still chances for them, and even Eli can still win it, but it looks like it will be between Cooper and Kenny. The last six races Cooper has been so strong, so mentally strong and technically Kenny is a bit better, but when it has to happen, when he has to win, Cooper just lines up and says to himself, he is here to rule, to win. He plays some mind games, and he plays it well and he is an old school racer and he just doesn’t give up. I think he wins the championship this year. I feel sorry for Kenny, because he has been through so much and it would be nice to see him win the championship, he deserves to win that championship and I hope he wins it, but I love Cooper and his attitude and of course I would prefer a KTM wins, rather than a Honda. If I have to say now, I have to say Cooper wins it.
Yes, I mean it is nice to see a guy like Cooper, because he was kind of lost in 2017 and 2018, and they he started working even harder, I mean he probably worked hard, but he wanted to get 100% put pf his program and his racing. 2017 he was struggling, also with injuries and things were not going well, and now, 2019 he was so strong, also in 2020 and he had that crash in 2020 that might have cost him a championship. I remember battling the guy in 2016 at Charlotte for the GP and right before the gate was about to go down, and there was just Forkner between us and right before the gate was about to go down, he says to me, “hey, what’s up, you ready to go racing.” I remember thinking, did he just say that did that dude just talk to me and I was still shocked. It was good, because he tried to play mind games and I liked that. I know I won the first race and in the second race we both got bad starts and when he was behind me, he was revving the shit out of his bike and I wasn’t used to that, because usually I won on the 250 easy. He closed the gap and then was whisky throttling me (laughing). I liked that really and it makes me respect him a lot more.