Championships are on the line in the last race at Fox Raceway, with two races remaining in the season. The riders and the fans are both well aware of the stakes. In 250 qualifying, Justin Cooper beat Jett Lawrence’s time, and Dylan Ferrandis beat Ken Roczen’s time. Cooper and Ferrandis set the fastest lap time for the top qualification place and first gate picks for Moto 1 later this afternoon, keeping them in competition for the championship in their respective classes.
With two races remaining, Roczen is exactly 50 points behind Ferrandis. With 50 points available for winning both motos on a given day, the Frenchman only has to gain one point on the German to secure the 450 title. Roczen’s smooth riding style puts him in front for the majority of the session, which is as classic as it gets. As aggressive as he runs, Ferrandis stole the top time by four-tenths on the final timed lap.
“The bike is awesome,” Ferrandis said to MAVTV after his blistering lap.
Ferrandis began the 2021 season with a win at Fox Raceway in his 450 debut in May. He hopes to cap off his debut season with a championship in the outdoor league after winning Rookie of the Year honors in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season earlier this spring. Roczen appears to be standing in his way of winning his third Motocross title, but he’ll have to do so from the second overall gate pick.
“I would lie if I said I feel relaxed,” said the Yamaha rider. “There’s a chance to grab the championship today, so I feel tight a little bit. We have to deal with it.”
One unique challenge is the reverse layout in Pala.The course was raced in a clockwise direction earlier this year in May, but today’s motos will be on a counter-clockwise layout. Ferrandis stated that it caught everyone in the pits off guard, but and with a little extra focus and practice, everyone was able to find their fast line around the course. Add this to the nerves of the possibility of locking up a championship, and it sets up for a fantastic race for fans to watch.
“Today the track is completely different,” Ferrandis stated. “I’ve never seen the track like this before, so it’s really new for everyone which is good. It took time for many riders to find the right line, but at the end I could do a really clean lap and get this Yamaha on top. We’re going to give it our best and see what we got.”
Justin Cooper gets a head start on Jett Lawrence
Jett Lawrence recently secured the red plate in the 250 division heading into the season’s last two races. The championship race is still very close with four motos remaining. Cooper took the early lead in qualifying with a quick lap, but he knows that won’t earn him points for the 2021 Pro Motocross championship.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Cooper shared when asked about his qualifying effort. “It’s just about keeping the pressure on, do or die now. We got to get into these last two rounds on top. That’s really the only choice we’ve got here. We’ve been a little bit subpar lately, so we’re going to get back on track today. It’s going to be hot, so we’re staying hydrated. It’ll be important going after that win.”
As previously stated, the weekend events have been made more difficult by the reverse arrangement. Cooper had a stressful moment when one of the riders stalled their bike at one of the turns. The rider was in his same line as he approached the blind turn, and the deep ruts from the early day mud caused him to go over the handlebars. It wasn’t a hard crash or landing, and just appeared to be a slight tweak in the bars, but still a moment that made him and his fans breathe a sigh of relief.
“It’s really muddy up in that turn,” explained Cooper. “I saw the yellow flag and I knew there was someone down. I was hoping it wasn’t in my line, but it was. I tried to jump out of it, but it was just so deep that my bike just sunk. Thankfully there was a guy (corner worker) there to help me get it out, because I wouldn’t have been able to get it out by myself. Bars are a little tweaked, but I had to get some laps down.”
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