Two-time 450SX champion Cooper Webb led a Red Bull KTM Factory Racing podium double at tonight’s Tampa round of the 2023 AMA Supercross Championship, picking up his first victory of the season and was closely followed by team-mate Aaron Plessinger in P3. In the 250SX East division, Tom Vialle continued to gain valuable experience with a hard-fought sixth-place result.
After registering the fifth-fastest qualifying time aboard his KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION, Webb found himself outside the top 10 early in his Heat race. Undeterred, the 27-year-old Florida resident remained calm and steadily moved his way forward to finish sixth for a direct transfer.
Putting that Heat race result behind him, Webb launched to the Main Event holeshot and quickly settled into second position. He continued to increase pressure on the leader and was rewarded when a mistake enabled Webb to power ahead, resulting in his first Supercross victory since his title-winning season in 2021. As a result, Webb is now just four points outside of the championship lead following five rounds.
Cooper Webb: “I came into today knowing I needed to execute a good result, but the day didn’t start out that special for me, as I struggled in qualifying and my Heat race. In the Main Event, I really focused and went to work – I got a good start and rode really solid laps, although the sand and the lapped riders were tough. I saw the leader go down and I was able to take the lead and the win. It’s been over a year since I’ve won a race, so now that I’ve got that winning feeling again, I now have the confidence, equipment, fitness and speed to do it again. From a championship standpoint, we’re in a great spot and confidence is key for me, so I look forward to Oakland.”
A seventh-fastest qualifying lap gave Plessinger a reasonable gate-pick for his Heat race, and the fan favorite capitalized, moving quickly into third position early on. Not content with a top-three finish, he made an incredible pass through the whoops to finish the Heat in P2.
Another quick launch off the Main Event gate saw Plessinger and his KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION emerge from the first turn in third place, and he steadily distanced himself from any challengers to finish in a well-deserved third to secure Red Bull KTM Factory Racing two of the three podium positions. He is sixth in the championship point-standings.
Aaron Plessinger: “This was a big confidence-booster for me. I’ve been working on my starts and that’s definitely been showing. It felt good to get out front and run with the front guys, although I made a couple of mistakes during the Main Event that meant I couldn’t really latch onto them. In saying that, I’m pumped – third place is the best result I’ve had in a while and it’s given me more confidence as we head to Oakland.”
In the 250SX East championship, Frenchman Tom Vialle qualified in eighth position, but avoided the first-turn carnage in his Heat race and put in a solid, consistent ride aboard his KTM 250 SX-F to cross the finish line in third place. That set him up nicely for what was his second AMA Supercross appearance.
The Main Event saw the dual MX2 World Champion enjoy another good start and he found himself P3 early on the opening lap, but had a mishap in the deep sand section and remounted outside the top 10. As rain began to fall, Vialle worked his way back through the pack, eventually finishing with a hard-earned sixth and he’s currently ranked fifth in the standings.
Tom Vialle: “My day was pretty good overall and I had a good heat, where I finished P3. I didn’t get the best start in the Main, but I was running near the front through the first few corners before I tipped over when I tried to pass a rider in the sand. I was quite far back and managed to come back through to sixth. I’m quite happy with the last few laps of the race where I made up a number of positions. We’re now only a few points off third in the championship, which is good. We’ve got a short break now, so we’ll work on the bike and myself to keep improving before Arlington.”
Next Race: February 18 – Oakland, California