While at Glen Helen Raceway for a standard Thursday practice, we spotted Alex Ray working with the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team on a YZ450F. This was somewhat of a surprise to us, as we knew that his ride with the CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha team was only for the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series and his plans for the summer were to race as a privateer aboard a Honda. A text message from Ray to swap on Wednesday night indicated that something would happen on Thursday at Glen Helen, and this seems to be the news.
But after seeing him run up and down the hills of Glen Helen, there are a few indicators that this is not just a test session, like the massive Monster Energy logo on the front of his O’Neal Racing jersey. With Cooper Webb on the sidelines for an undetermined amount of time and the start of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship about a week away, Ray was probably an easy decision for the Yamaha to put on the bike for a period of time.
We will speak with Ray later today for more information.
UPDATE MAY 15 11:15 AM | Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing have confirmed that Alex Ray will serve as a fill-in rider for the team in the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Per a press release from the team, Ray is confirmed to race the Glen Helen, Thunder Valley, and High Point rounds of the championship in place of the currently injured Cooper Webb. Around the time of High Point, Webb should be cleared to resume riding and Yamaha will reassess how many more races Ray will do until Webb returns to the starting line.
The press release is posted in full below…
With Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing's Cooper Webb still on the mend from a fractured tibia and fibula sustained at Round 14 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, the team has officially announced today that Yamaha bLU cRU rider Alex Ray will fill-in for Webb at select rounds of the 2018 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, beginning with Round 2 at Glen Helen Raceway on May 26.
Ray, who piloted a YZ450F for the Cycle Trader/Rock River Yamaha Team in the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, made great strides throughout the year, but came into the outdoor motocross season without any team prospects. The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team recognized Ray's efforts and presented the Tennessee native with this extraordinary opportunity. Ray will spend the next two weeks testing with the team in preparation for the Glen Helen National, and will continue riding for the team through the High Point National on June 16. From there, it will be a week-by-week assessment until Webb makes his return this summer.
Alex Ray, 450MX #91 – Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing Team Fill-In Rider
“It’s a dream come true to even be considered to ride for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing Team! I believe that with this great team and amazing bike I can really do some damage and have solid results in the Pro Motocross Championship. I've got some testing to do with the bike before lining up, but I’m confident that we will be super comfortable leading into Glen Helen."
Cooper Webb, 450MX #2 – Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing Team
"At first the injury didn't seem like a big deal, but after flying to California and visiting Dr. Wong, he recommended I get surgery to speed up the healing process. He put a plate and some screws with one longer screw holding my tib/fib together at the top of my ankle. I get that longer screw pulled out this week and the healing is going great! I'm much further ahead of schedule than originally planned. I should be able to start riding lightly, corner tracks with no jumping, the following week. As far as a return date to racing, we are still undecided. We will take it week-by-week to make sure I come back 100%. I want to make sure I can put my Yamaha up front where it belongs, instead of coming back early and unprepared. Thank you to my team, sponsors, and fans for sticking behind me. I'll see you guys soon!"
The 2018 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship kicks off this Saturday, May 19, with the Hangtown Motocross Classic in Sacramento, California. The Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing Team will be ready to go at Round 1 with Justin Barcia prepared to do battle in the 450MX class.