PHOTOS | Octopi Media
When we were first introduced to Justin Cooper last season, he had just earned a podium at his very first professional race at Unadilla in the mud. Since then, he’s had some ups and downs with injury, but has continued to put himself near the front of the pack throughout the summer that has included podium finishes and a moto win. When we ran into Cooper at the Thor MX launch in San Diego, he had just earned one of those overall podiums at the 2018 Spring Creek Motocross and had been racing for nearly a full year since his debut. Here are just some of his thoughts on how things have been going thus far.
Last Saturday you wore this new Prime Pro stuff. I know it was designed for moto, but tell me this, how does it work for watersports?
It’s very good [laughs]. Myself and AP [Aaron Plessinger] decided to take a little dip in the creek after we went 1-2. To be honest, the gear works great. It really wraps around your body and it’s very flexible. I think it kind fits the body well and the fit works for every single person regardless of how unique they are. I was really impressed with it, to be honest, and it’s the first time I’ve been able to wear it the whole day. Things went great and I couldn’t complain about the gear really [laughs].
Looking at riding gear, it seems like it’s taken off and become very athletic, very comfortable, and provides a lot of airflow. As a racer, do you really feel the benefits of those improvements from year to year?
Yeah, of course! Even getting into the gear for Saturday morning practice, my teammates and I looked at each other like, ‘Woah, this is next level stuff.’ It just felt amazing and we couldn’t wait to get out there and ride in it. You’re seeing a lot of improvement with all of the companies and it’s cool to see. It’s important to get the airflow in these long hot motos, so any advantage you get there is a plus.
If you jump back to last year, you had a good debut, and now you’ve got a moto win under your belt and a handful of podiums. As far as the first season goes, is there anything you wish you’d have done differently or are you satisfied with how it’s gone?
To be honest, I’m really stoked. I knew I’d do good, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be this good. For changes, I can’t really think of anything. I mean, I had a couple of crashes that I’d like to have back but it’s my rookie year and I make mistakes and learn from them. It’s important that it happens now and I just have to learn to be better for the future. It’s been a great year so far and we’re third in points with three podiums so far, so it’s definitely awesome. I want to get as much experience as I can being that I got out of Supercross so early with an injury. I’m trying to make the most of this rookie year.
With a guy like Aaron who’s on your team and leading the championship right now, does that help you in your position? Are you able to learn much from him and does that motivate you even more as far as chasing titles later on in your career?
It shows you what a champion is and how it works and how to get it done. Pretty much every day of the week I train with him and we’re all doing the same stuff. I try to learn as much as I can because he’s been there for awhile. To be even close to him now is an accomplishment now and it just makes me that much more excited to learn as much as I can this year and achieve as much as I can this year because I definitely want to go into next year ready.
Between last year and this year you’ve done almost the entire outdoor circuit, having been to all of these places now, is there somewhere that strikes you as your favorite and made you think, ‘Man, this is awesome.’
Well, all of the East Coast tracks I’ve been to, but that’s where I’m from so I know the dirt. Obviously, it’s a little bit softer than the West Coast so I’m a lot more comfortable there. Pretty much all of the East Coast tracks I’ve liked and even some of the West Coast ones too. The tracks that I haven’t been to I’ve been really good at, like Millville I’ve never been there and I was able to qualify first. Then I got on the podium again. A lot of these tracks I’ve set pole position without riding them. It’s just figuring out the jumps and all that. I’m just putting my skills to use and getting used to the tracks pretty quickly. I feel pretty comfortable with how my team sets up the bike because of their experience with previous riders. Everything’s pretty good and I just want to keep making strides forward.
With that said, we have Unadilla coming soon and that one went pretty good for you last year. How are you feeling about that one?
Yeah, I’m from New York and that’s my hometown race so I’m definitely going to be excited to go back to that place. I’ve ridden there a lot as an amateur. There’s a lot of fans there and it’s a really good track I think. It’s been flat the last couple of years because they’ve been expecting rain and even got it last year, but hopefully it’ll be deep this year and it’ll bring back that gnarly Unadilla from the past.