Motocross: Jeremy Martin secures first career 250 Class championship on muddy Indiana track

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On any other day, a season-worst 15th-place moto finish for Jeremy Martin may have left the young rider feeling seriously disappointed.

Not Saturday though. Martin had plenty of reason to celebrate after officially clinching the 250 Class title in the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.

Thanks to some heavy rain on Saturday morning that came in time for the first practice session at the Thor Indiana National, the Ironman Raceway track was turned into a wet, sloppy, muddy mess. Although the rain held off once the racing got underway, the damage had already been done. Lap times were slow. Several riders found themselves stuck in the mud and struggled to get their bikes free. Riding behind someone else meant getting roosted in the face with mud, and as a result, some riders were forced to toss their goggles and pull into the mechanic’s area to get a new pair.

Despite the unpredictable conditions, Martin didn’t have much issue navigating the track in the first 250 Class moto. The Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha rider finished second behind Jessy Nelson, and thanks to poor outings from the two riders still mathematically alive in the title race – Blake Baggett and Cooper Webb – Martin was able to lock up the title with three motos still left in the season.

A 15th-place finish in Moto 2 left Martin off the overall podium for the day, but after the conclusion of the race, he was presented with the #1 plate in honor of his championship. The title is the first of Martin’s career, and he accomplished it in just his second full season of professional racing.

“To be able to have the number one plate, I’ve been thinking of how good it would feel to hear Kevin [Crowther] from the AMA to be passing on the number one plate to me and this is the greatest moment of my life,” Martin said after receiving the plate.

Martin also acknowledged the fans that have been supporting him throughout the season.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said, “I heard the fans cheering me on the whole time out there, and that was the motivation I needed. You guys [the fans] have been cheering me on all year, and you don’t know how much that means to me.”

The overall victory in Indiana went to Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, who placed third in Moto 1 and then won Moto 2. After starting the year off slow as he recovered from ACL surgery, Musquin is on fire lately, with victories at two of the last three rounds.

Joey Savatgy (4-3 moto finishes) had his best race ever and finished second overall. Jessy Nelson – whose Moto 1 victory was the first of his career – earned the final spot on the overall podium despite an eighth-place finish in the second moto.

Indiana 250 Class Overall Results
1. Marvin Musquin (3-1)
2. Joey Savatgy (4-3)
3. Jessy Nelson (1-8)
4. Christophe Pourcel (9-2)
5. Cooper Webb (6-5)
6. Dean Wilson (8-6)
7. Alex Martin (7-7)
8. Jeremy Martin (2-15)
9. Jason Anderson (5-10)
10. Blake Baggett (14-4)
*Moto 1 and Moto 2 results in parenthesis

Cooper solidifies PWC GT presence with Callaway Corvette

Callaway, Cooper, Gill. Photo: PWC
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Pirelli World Challenge could use a “face” of the series from a driving standpoint, and American Michael Cooper is a good candidate to fill that role for 2018.

Cooper, 27, has won PWC Touring Car, GTS and, most recently the SprintX GT titles within the series and has quickly blossomed into one of the series’ top GT stars.

It’s been a rapid rise for the Syosset, N.Y. native, entering into a world filled with series stars and champions such as Johnny O’Connell, Patrick Long, Alvaro Parente and a host of others.

But under O’Connell’s tutelage, Cooper admirably filled the rather gaping shoes vacated by Andy Pilgrim at Cadillac Racing, steering the Cadillac ATS-V.R to multiple race wins in the last two years – including a sweep of this year’s season finale weekend at Sonoma.

Cooper and Jordan Taylor were the model of consistency in SprintX this year, winning once at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and surviving contact at Circuit of The Americas to take that title.

With Cadillac withdrawing its ATS-V.R program at the end of the year though, Cooper was left a free agent for 2018. Fortunately with one door closed another opened, in the form of the GM-blessed but full Callaway Competition USA effort with its Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R that will come Stateside next year. Cooper and Daniel Keilwitz will be in the team’s two cars for the full season; the car was fully unveiled last week at the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

The Callaway is a proven commodity in Europe but couldn’t run in the U.S. unless the path was cleared by one of GM’s factory programs to end a direct, potential head-to-head competition.

Moving from the Cadillac to the Callaway Corvette should be a natural transition, Cooper said last week.

“It worked out incredibly well that GM decided to allow Calloway to run the car in the United States and it created an opportunity for me that wouldn’t have been there otherwise,” he told NBC Sports. “I talked to a lot of other GT teams and at the end of the day, I felt like this was the best direction for me to be competitive next year and to also continue furthering my career with General Motors.”

Indeed Cooper has graduated from the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R in GTS to the Cadillac and now to the Callaway Corvette. Cooper hailed the Cadillac team for what they did for his career growth.

“Working with Cadillac Racing has been instrumental in developing my abilities both on and off the track,” he said. “So I’m definitely a much more well-rounded driver now and have a lot of experience in the World Challenge GT field, so I kind of know what to expect going into that first race and going into that first corner in St. Pete.”

As noted, the car’s success in Europe means it’s a well-oiled machine by the time Reeves Callaway has worked with PWC to bring it Stateside next year. And as Cooper explained, discussions had been underway for a bit of time to ensure his presence in this car and team.

“I think the car is going to be extremely capable. It’s already won championships and races in Europe. I think, in bringing it over here, we’re going to hit the ground running straight away,” he said.

“Calloway had wanted me to come drive for them in July or August. We always kept in touch since then, and there was a lot of work trying to put together a program before they decided that they were going to do a fully fledged factory program. So once they made that decision, I think the pieces were kind of in place already, and the conversations had been had to be able to say ‘You’re going to be our guy.’”

December is late for IMSA programs to get finalized, but it’s relatively early for PWC, with the season not starting until mid-March in St. Petersburg. An extensive testing program should follow, as Callaway establishes its U.S. base and infrastructure.

“It’s definitely early for a Pirelli World Challenge program to be announced in December when we start racing in March. So that’s very good,” he said. “But, the team has a lot of work ahead of them in terms of getting infrastructure set up here in the United States, because a lot of their racing program has been in Europe. So, there will be a testing program, but they have to get the infrastructure in place first. But, we’ll be well prepared for St. Pete, I’m certain of it.

“Last year was the first year when I could sit back, kick my feet up, and know what I was doing next year. So, to be able to have everything done and be able to announce it this early on makes my life less stressful and now I can just focus on preparing myself and my team for next year.”