Cooper Webb wins Supercross Round 12, sweeps Arlington, Justin Cooper takes 250 red plate

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The Monster Energy Supercross Round 12 is in the books with Cooper Webb setting himself up as a clear favorite for the championship after sweeping three rounds of the Arlington, Texas residency.

Webb won all three races in AT&T Stadium, but the third of three races there was far from an foregone conclusion.

With three consecutive races off the podium, Ken Roczen has been losing the momentum that gave him the early red plate. On Tuesday, he finally reversed that trend with a third-place finish in Arlington 2. On Saturday, he improved even more after grabbing the holeshot, leading for 15 minutes and crossing under the checkers in second.

Five rounds remain in the 2021 Supercross season and Roczen believes he is regaining his competitiveness, but one would be hard pressed to convince Webb of that.

After winning both Orlando races, Webb has finished first or second in the last seven consecutive events.

It was not a smooth evening for Webb, however. He was passed in his heat by Roczen and later put on the ground by Roczen’s teammate Chase Sexton.

“That was a crazy race for sure,” Webb told NBCSN’s Will Christien after the 450 Main was in the books. “I got off to a second-place start behind Kenny and he was laying it down those first few – had some good speed. I was just trying to hang on and Eli (Tomac) was all over me. I knew both of those guys were really on it today.

“I just focused on being consistent. I rode terrible in that heat race and didn’t really like being put on the ground. But that was good. It got me fired up for the main event. I had to ride with Kenny that whole race. To make a late charge was awesome.”

POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Round 12 in Supercross

Roczen refused to be discouraged by his second-place result, however. He led his first laps in several weeks and was encouraged by the holeshot.

In the second Arlington race on Tuesday, he snapped a three-race streak in which he failed to stand on the podium. He finished third in that event behind his principal rivals Webb and Tomac. Saturday night, he was second after leading more than 15 minutes of the main.

“It was tough out there,” Roczen said. “I was leading and those guys were behind me. I felt like I was hitting my marks pretty good, but it wasn’t enough. Cooper was riding awesome again.

“But I’m slowly coming back and everything is open. We’ve got to keep doing the same thing. I’m happy with my starts again. That worked out great. We were leading some laps, so I’m slowly working my way back up and giving it everything I’ve got out there. That’s really all I can do.”

Time is running out for Tomac to defend his 2020 championship.

After winning his second race of the season at Daytona, Tomac had a terrible opening to the Arlington residency. He finished eighth last Saturday, but rebounded to finish second on Tuesday. He had the leaders in sight and was actually closing ground before drifting wide crossing the finish line three-fourths of the way through the race and clipped a Tuff Blox on landing.

Ken Roczen earned the holeshot and led early in Round 12 in Arlington. Feld Entertainment, Inc.

“We were all three together there at the beginning,” Tomac said. “Then one little wide line on the finish line. I thought I had it saved to be honest, but I just kept going. I needed an air break there.”

Tomac lost third to Justin Barcia for a little while and once he regained the position it was too late to catch the leaders.

Tomac is now 41 points behind Webb with five rounds remaining.

Barcia held on to finish fourth and remains fourth in the standings.

Jason Anderson rounded out the top five.

Malcom Stewart in sixth, Dylan Ferrandis in seventh, Joey Savatgy in eighth, Aaron Plessinger in ninth, and Dean Wilson rounded out the top 10.

Four weeks after returning to action Sexton crashed again in the Main and was unable to finish.


The 250 class began with a tight battle in which the top three were separated by only two points. With his first 250 win last week, Hunter Lawrence affixed the red plate to his Honda and hoped he could keep it. He needed to win in order for that to happen, however.

The top three points contenders jumped out to an early lead. Justin Cooper grabbed the holeshot over Cameron Mcadoo and Lawrence. Cooper slowly stretched his advantage as the other two contenders settled into a comfortable pace.

Cooper became the first rider to win multiple events in the 250 West series. Better still, he snapped a three-race streak in which he finished off the podium. And more importantly, his victory gave him the red plate once more after he lost it after the first round in Daytona.

“It’s been a tough road,” Cooper told Daniel Blair on NBCSN after the race. “I’ve been on the ground a lot in the Main event.

“This was the same game plan as  every other race so it was really about executing. I got two great starts. Two holeshots and just had to put a little bit of hope back into everyone who was doubting me.

“I really just had to refuel the fire inside of myself. I had to get it done tonight. I couldn’t continue to spiral downhill like that.”

Mcadoo also bounced back. After crashing on Tuesday in the Main and getting penalized three spots for cutting the course, he had his worst race and finished off of the podium for the first time this season. Mcadoo did not have anything for the leader, but his second-place finish was enough to bring him within two points of Cooper with five rounds remaining.

“We’ve got to win,” Mcadoo said after the race. “It’s good to get these good results. Stacking these things together is what’s going to count at the end. But every point counts. We’re only two points apart. I can’t let (Cooper) beat me like that.”

Seth Hammaker survived an early-race incident with Coty Schock when Schock jumped onto the back of Hammaker’s bike.

“It was a hectic first few laps,” said third-place Hammaker. “I got a little squirrely on the step-on, step-off over there. I didn’t know what happened behind me, but I knew my plate got bent in. After that, I just rode my own race – was in fourth and really just trying to flow.”

Hammaker was trailing the top three until Lawrence had an off course excursion.

Coming off a career-best finish of second last week, Jalek Swoll finished fourth and held onto that position in the points. He trails Cooper by 15.

Lawrence grabbed his first win of the season on Tuesday and appeared to have the field in sight when he ran off course in a bowl turn and got tangled in the netting.

After doing his best Spiderman impression by hanging onto the net long enough to let his bike hit the ground, Lawrence was able to quickly remount his Honda after losing only two positions. That cost eight points overall and Lawrence left the evening with a six-point deficit to Cooper.

Garrett Marchbanks was forced to ride through the Last Chance Qualifier to make the Main. He won that event and finished sixth in the big show.

Chris Blose in seventh, Kyle Peters in eighth, Nate Thrasher in ninth and Jarrett Frye rounded out the top 10.

It was the first top-10 for Frye in Supercross competition.

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

ROUND 7, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb trims Ken Roczen lead

ROUND 8, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb sweeps Orlando to put pressure on Ken Roczen

ROUND 9, DAYTONA: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael at Daytona; Ken Roczen, Copper Webb war 

ROUND 10, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb takes the points lead with five straight top-two finishes

ROUND 11, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb wins first two races of Arlington residency

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”