EDIT TO STORY: Cooper Abbott had a bad crash in Free Practice Two during the afternoon. He was questionable to race the evening show. He decided to gut it out and ride in pain. He has major bruising to his Gluteal Fascia, Gluteus Medius and Thoracodorsal Fascia areas.
Nampa, ID – It was mixed emotions for team FactoryONE Sherco in front of a sold-out crowd at the Ford Idaho Center. Cooper Abbott had consistent motos but came up just short of his first overall podium. Louise Forsley had to sit out the round due to illness. Cody Webb was a magnet for pileups and incidents
The raucous crowd was provided with a great show over the course of the evening. The hot lap qualification provided the fans with jaw-dropping moments from the start. Each successive rider seemed to open up a new line that wasn’t done during the afternoon practice sessions. One such moment was when Cody Webb jumped the entire “balance beam gulch” during his qualification run. He was the only one to do so and the appreciation from the audience was evident. This move helped him secure the third-fastest time. Cooper Abbott had a few bobbles to go along with some spectacular moments during his hot lap. He finished with the seventh gate pick for moto number one.
The FactoryONE Sherco duo were among a tight group of riders at the end of the longest start straight to date in moto one. It was Colton Haaker with the hole-shot, followed by Taddy Balzusiak, Cody Webb, Jonny Walker, and Cooper Abbott. It was lap two when things started to unravel for Webb. Blazusiak and Webb were battling for position when a log obstacle took down the Polish rider. Webb had nowhere to go as he was right on his rear wheel and ended up landing on Blazusiak in a very precarious manner. This allowed Abbott into the third spot, but the downed pair were now in last and second to last. While Webb was making his way through back markers, a similar situation occurred with Anthony Johnson crashing just in front of Webb which brought down the three-time champ for a second time. Abbott meanwhile was clicking off consistent laps and finished the moto on the podium in third. Webb finished thirteenth after the double misfortune during the moto.
On what is a rare instance, moto two would have Cody Webb on the front row for the inverted start with Abbott having the 3rd last pick on the back row. As the gate dropped, it was Blazusiak with the hole-shot, followed by Spenser Wilton, Gus Riorden, and Cody Webb. The leaders were battling for position coming out of the rock garden and into the “balance beam gulch,” when Webb was involved in yet another frightful moment. As the riders come out of the gulch, they need to set themselves up for a 180-degree right-hand turn. As Webb was entering the turn, Branden Petrite had launched himself off of a log double jump and his front wheel landed between Webb’s shoulder blades rolling down his back and to his bike. While shaken, it wasn’t enough to knock Webb off of his Sherco. Behind them, Cooper Abbott had gotten pinched in at the start and was in the thirteenth at the first corner. He would again ride very consistent laps and pass riders up to the eighth position where he would finish the moto. Cody Webb finished p5, citing the near takeout as being in his head.
In moto three, Cody Webb would rocket out of the gate for his first hole-shot of the year on his SEF 300 Factory. He was followed by Blazusiak, Ryder Leblond, Colton Haaker, and a host of other riders in tow. This wasn’t great news for Abbott as he had a chance at his first podium of the year if he was to finish ahead of Leblond and in a top-six placement in the moto. He changed that after the first tire stack when he took an inside line and moved up to p2 behind Webb. As we said in the open, it was mixed emotions however as back-to-back mistakes allowed Haaker and Walker past with Leblond right on the rear wheel of Abbott. Cooper was able to hold him off for a few laps but in the end, he had to settle for p6 for the moto and p4 for the overall. Cody Webb finished the moto in p3 and p6 overall. Webb is still in a fight for the championship podium despite finishing last in round one due to some misfortune.
“I think I had a crash magnet on or something,” said a confused Cody Webb. “That was a really tough night. I had myself set up for success but riders kept crashing in front of me, but that is racing. Honestly, I am just happy to walk away uninjured, especially after (Branden) Petrie used me as a landing ramp in moto two. I am still in the hunt for a season podium despite this round and the opening round, I am going to give it my all in Reno,” concluded Webb.
“I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to race tonight. I had a big crash in the second practice and got banged up pretty good. I decided to give it a go and I had a great moto one,” said Cooper Abbott. “I was able to click off smooth laps and that was key to having a great race. The guys were riding so fast, it was easy to get out of shape pushing that kind of pace. I am so close to that overall podium spot, I just need to clean up my second motos where I am typically starting on the back row with the inverted start. I am gunning for that podium at the final round in Reno,” concluded Abbott.
Unfortunately for Louise Forsley, illness got the better of her and she was unable to race round five despite being in a very tight battle for the championship. On a positive note, 18-year-old Inside Enduro Sherco’s Hallie Marks was able to secure her first women’s pro podium.
“I have been battling something since the Prescott round, ” said Louise Forsley. “it is really kicking my butt so we decided it was in my best interest to sit this one out despite being so close in championship points,” concluded Forsley.