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Tomac: “It was a bit of an off day with my riding.”

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Tampa’s round of Monster Energy Supercross started with a story of Eli Tomac in a position to tie Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time supercross wins list. Seeing as he’s won three of the first four races of 2023, and last weekend’s race in Houston, a win certainly seemed possible.

Tampa didn’t roll his way, though, as Tomac was uncharacteristically off the pace in both his heat race (he finished third) and the main event (fifth). Tomac maintains the points lead by two over Chase Sexton and four over Cooper Webb.

Today Yamaha released some info on the 450 team’s race weekend, including Tomac’s ride for fifth, and Justin Cooper‘s ride for seventh. The Yamaha press release is below.

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac scored a top-five finish in challenging conditions to hold onto his lead in the 450SX Championship

MARIETTA, Ga. – February 12, 2023 – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac secured a top-five finish despite challenging conditions last night at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. With the big picture in mind, the reigning 450SX Champion rode smart to keep it on two wheels and leave the fifth round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and SuperMotocross World Championship Series with the red plate still in his grasp. Once again, rookie Justin Cooper put in a solid ride, earning another seventh-place finish in his second outing in the premier class.

Tomac got the day off to a good start and was third on the combined timesheets, but it was a completely different track for the night show as it started raining after qualifying. It looked like the rain was done for the day, but the skies opened up again during the second heat race of the 250 class, making for tricky conditions. Tomac finished third in his heat race and then found himself seventh after the first lap of the main event. Undeterred, he advanced to fifth, where he would finish to salvage points and leave with a two-point advantage in the championship. 

Cooper continued to make progress throughout the day and was sixth in qualifying. The slippery conditions made for a tough first 450 heat race, but the 2021 250SX West Champion kept it on two wheels and finished seventh to advance to the main event. Although he had a less-than-ideal 14th-gate pick, he got a great start and was fifth. Cooper rode his own race and ultimately crossed the line seventh to match his result from his debut race in Houston.

The Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team heads back west for the rescheduled Round 2 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and the SuperMotocross World Championship Series at the RingCentral Colisuem in Oakland, Florida, on February 18. 

Jeremy Coker – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 450 Team Manager
“It was a good day, overall, even though the results don’t show it. The track was tough with the sand, and then obviously, there was an extra element with the rain before the night show. It just added a little trickiness to it, and Eli wasn’t super comfortable with the soil out there. It’s just one of those nights where it was better not to risk it and bring it home where we did and keep the points lead. So, we’ll go to work this week and make some changes to the bike to get him a little more comfortable and come back swinging for Oakland.”

Jensen Hendler – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 250 Team Manager
“It was another great ride from Justin on the 450. He made progress throughout the day and had a solid qualifying in sixth. The rain started again during the heat races, and it was really tough out there, but Justin rode smart. He got a great start in the top five in the main event and finished seventh, which is really impressive for just his second race in that class. We’re really happy with how he’s progressing and will keep working on trying to get him a podium before the outdoor season.”

Eli Tomac – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“It was a bit of an off day for my riding. I struggled with finding a comfort zone during the night show, with the conditions being on the edge of slick and decent traction. Overall we learned a lot about those conditions for the future, and I’m happy to still have the points lead.”

Justin Cooper – Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing
“It was another solid day. I think for my first two races to be inside the top 10 – seventh in both main events – I can’t ask for much more than this. It’s a really good start. These guys are really fast, and I’m just happy to be where I’m at in my first couple of races. It’s definitely something to learn from and build on for the future. 

“The conditions were definitely tough. In the heat race, it was raining, and then all the way up to the main, it was sprinkling. Luckily, it stopped for the main, and the track kind of got better as it went on, and there was a little bit more traction, but the heat was a little bit scary. It was really slippery. I was riding pretty timid out there, and I was just thankful to get through that one clean. I was able to ride like myself in the main, though, and finished seventh.”

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