New Zealand native Cody Cooper spent his 2008 outdoor National campaign aboard a less than factory Suzuki RM-Z450. Though Cooper wasn’t receiving full support from the factory, his impressive and consistent podium performances throughout the summer were enough to land him his first full factory ride in America aboard a Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha. We caught up with the friendly New Zealander recently to talk about his ’08 outdoor season and his thoughts about competing in the 2009 Supercross season.
Looking back on things, how do you feel your first full outdoor season in America went for you?
I think things went really well. I set some goals this season that I was able to accomplish–one of them being my starts. I also wanted to finish inside the top five overall in the points, and I ended up accomplishing that as well. I understand that a lot of people were injured, but a lot of people were telling me–especially now that I’m figuring out Supercross–to stay in one piece. There are somewhere around 16 Supercross races and 12 motocross races, so it’s a long season.
You’ve inked yourself a deal with the Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha team for 2009. How are things going thus far?
Things are going really well! I enjoy the bike, and we’ve done a lot of testing so far. I enjoy North Carolina quite a bit. I have a house out there now, and just hanging out and being around the team is awesome. I train and ride with Josh [Grant] a lot, so it’s really nice to have a training buddy like Josh.
Are you excited for your first-ever Supercross season?
I know I’ll be a bit nervous at A1, but I am excited. We have about a month and a half to go, so I have a lot of time to work on a few things that I’m having trouble with. The main thing is just gaining more confidence in myself on a Supercross track, you know? I just need to learn a few little things that I know will help me out in the long run.
Was there a big difference jumping from a Suzuki to a Yamaha?
Not really because I rode Honda’s for most of my life, and when I switched over to Suzuki last year I felt fine. When I made that changed it really helped me out to know that I can ride other bikes and feel just as comfortable. Having that experience behind me made the jump to the Yamaha that much easier. Having all these guys on the team there to help me setup the bike makes things a lot easier on myself (laughs).
Is it nice going from the privateer-type setup you had this summer into a factory rig?
Well, I’m not too fast to be honest with you. In Australia I pitted out of factory rigs, so I guess over here I am with some faster riders and a different truck. I don’t know… It’s only a truck that holds a team; it’s nothing big (laughs). That bike is really good, though.
What do you hope to accomplish in Supercross?
I’m not too sure on that at the moment. We’re going over to Switzerland to do a Supercross race at the start of December, and I think once we do that I’ll have a better idea of where I stand and then start setting some realistic goals for myself after that. I obviously want to do really well come the outdoor season…better than I did this year.