Cooper Webb wins second race in Supercross Round 7; Jett Lawrence also doubles


Cooper Webb’s win in Round 7 of the Monster Energy Supercross season felt a lot different than his first of the season.

When Webb won his first race of 2021, he did so by stalking Ken Roczen and upsetting him with a last-lap pass. Saturday night in Orlando, Florida, Webb led 22 of 25 laps and maintained a solid advantage.

The two experiences were vastly different.

“These last two (races) have been great,” Webb said on NBCSN from the top of the podium. “Last week, we were close like that, and this one was a great race. I got a good start. I had a lot of good speed at the beginning of the race. Made some good passes right away; got in the lead. The track broke down a lot especially from the beginning laps. I felt really good in the whoops and then they went away.”

Webb finished second to Roczen in last week’s finale to the three-race Indianapolis residency. It was his fifth consecutive finish of fourth or better after getting off to a slow start in the season opener.

“I haven’t led like that in a while,” Webb said. “It’s definitely different when you’re leading the majority of the main event. So I kind of had to get used to that. Made a few mistakes those last few and Kenny caught up, but I was able to get it done.”

Webb was able to shave a little bit from Roczen’s championship lead. Roczen currently holds a 13-point advantage over the field, but it is important to start taking small bites out of his lead with 10 races remaining.

“I feel like we needed to stop that momentum that Ken has,” Webb said.

POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Round 7 in Supercross

Despite giving up three points, Roczen was happy with his runner-up finish.

The same can be said of his season so far. The current points leader is coming off a three-race winning streak. Equally impressive, Roczen has finished first or second in all but one race this season. He was fifth in the second of three Houston races.

“About midrace I kind of lost touch a little bit,” Roczen said. “After that we kind of yo-yoed. I reeled him in a little bit at the end, but I had a couple of close calls in the whoops and just got kicked a little weird; and almost went down. I simply wasn’t fast enough to get back on and make a pass.”

Zach Osborne grabbed his first holeshot of the season and led early. He fell to fourth quickly but was able to keep the leaders in sight. When Justin Barcia stumbled, he was in a position to pounce and score his first podium of the year.

But it was Barcia that had the save of the race. In the closing laps, he bobbled in the whoops and dismounted his GasGas bike at full speed. Barcia ran alongside the bike through the next jump and was able to regain his seat without crashing. That was enough to stall his momentum and relegate him to fourth.

After winning the season opener, Barcia wanted to ensure he was not a one-trick pony. He now has four top-fives in seven rounds of the Supercross season.

It was another bad start for defending series champion Eli Tomac, which preceded another spirited charge through the field. Tomac rebounded to finish fifth at the end of Supercross Round 7 and trails Roczen by 29 points. Tomac scored a win in his heat over Shane McElrath, who was making his 450 debut after starting the year with an injury.

McElrath led his heat early and finished second. He started the main event in ninth but faded to 17th at the end.

A rookie season is concerned with building speed and education. Jett Lawrence has the first and rapidly is earning the second.

Last year an injury early in what should have been his freshman campaign sidelined him for most of the season. That almost happened again in the second Indy race when he crashed three times before ultimately taking that night’s main event off. He nursed his shoulder and was back up to speed for the first of two Orlando shows.

Lawrence won his first 250 East race in the second Houston race, and that made him hungry for more. He finally sated that appetite for the second time Saturday night with the Round 7 win.

“I finally got my start sorted and it was just a good ride,” Lawrence said after the race. “I had no idea where Colt (Nichols) was and halfway through I saw a Star Racing helmet (across the track). I didn’t know if it was Christian (Craig)’s or Colt’s and I was like, ‘Oh! Did he go down?’ and I started to relax a bit – but then I heard the Star bike right behind and thought I’d better get going again.”

In fact Nichols had nearly crashed halfway through the event.

“No real decisions really,” Nichols said after the incident. “It was just get back on the horse and go. I had a pretty good moment on that triple. I was just trying to do everything I could to catch Jett. He had a few seconds. He was definitely better than me tonight on this track.”

It was important for Nichols to maintain his mount after falling in Round 6 and allowing teammate Craig to close the gap.

Saturday night in Orlando, it was Craig’s turn to experience trouble.

On Lap 1 of his heat, Craig crashed hard and injured his right hand. He failed to finish that race and was forced into the Last Chance Qualifier, which he handily won by riding a safe race without any risk. In the main event, he finished a distant third to Lawrence and Nichols but managed to salvage what might have been a disastrous night.

“I’ve never had a day like this when I had to push through and injury – and I’m in a title chase so there is no giving up,” Craig said. “When I got out there in the Main event my adrenaline kicked in, and the pain went away.

“I’m just happy and glad to be up here. Salvaged points; only lost a couple. We got a big break. I can heal up and just be ready for Salt Lake.”

Craig finished third.

Still having a career-defining season, Jo Shimoda finished fourth and kept a perfect streak of top fives alive. With one race remaining, Shimoda is 28 points behind Nichols, so it will be a two-man race in the finale at Salt Lake City.

Nichols and Craig will have to wait more than two months for that final showdown, however, as the 250 West riders take center stage beginning next Saturday.

ROUND 1, HOUSTON: Justin Barcia wins opener for third consecutive time

ROUND 2, HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds, wins after Round 1 disappointment

ROUND 3, HOUSTON: Cooper Webb wins, Ken Roczen denied revenge

ROUND 4, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen makes it four winners in four races

ROUND 5, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen goes back to back for first time since 2017 injury

ROUND 6, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen is perfect in Indy for third straight win

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.