News 1 Sep 2023

Yamaha makes Cooper's full-time transfer to 450 class official

Will ride YZ450F at Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing in 2024.

Image: Octopi Media.

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing has made it official that Justin Cooper will transfer to the 450 class full-time in 2024 for the complete SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) series.

With Eli Tomac already signed on a Monster Energy Supercross-only commitment at this point, he will be joined by 26-year-old Cooper, who will ride both 450SX and the 450MX class in Pro Motocross.

“I’m super-excited to sign the 450 deal with Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing,” Cooper explained. “We’ve had an awesome six years together on the 250, and I think that success should transition quite nicely to the 450 class. I’m also super-excited to start this next chapter of my career.

“It’s really nice to know that we have a team behind us that knows me and what I like on the bike to make that transition easier and carry over the success we’ve built on the 250 over to the 450 class. I feel like I’m in a good spot going into this next season.

“To be able to make my full-time 450 debut with a crew that I’m comfortable with and that I trust, it’s just a welcome feeling. There’s nothing really to worry about, like a big transition stage and having to move or anything like that. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Since joining the team in 2018, Cooper has enjoyed a successful tenure aboard the YZ250F as a proven title contender. In addition to his 2021 250SX West championship, he has multiple wins in both the stadium and outdoors. He contested five 450SX rounds this season, with a best of P6 at Daytona.

“We’re happy to have Justin return with the team and see him move up to the 450 class in 2024,” commented Jim Roach, Yamaha Racing department manager for YMUS. “It’s been great to see him evolve in this championship from the early beginning to the 2021 250SX title and now as he heads into his next chapter in the premier class. He shows a lot of potential on the YZ450F, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do next season in SMX.”

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 450 team manager Jeremy Coker added: ‘We’re pleased to announce Justin’s addition to the 450 team. Having him with us full-time in the premier class is truly exciting. You can feel his real potential when he’s on a 450, and I honestly think we’re about to see some amazing things from him in the near future.”

It was a roller-coaster outdoor season for the New Yorker, who didn’t line up for the motos at High Point after a big crash in practice. Cooper rallied back, ending the year with four moto wins and 12 trips to the podium to secure the runner-up spot in the 250MX championship. He will remain on the YZ250F for the upcoming 2023 SMX Finals series.

In addition to Tomac and Cooper, it’s widely expected that two-time 450SX champion Cooper Webb will soon be announced as a third rider at Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing in what will mark his reunion with the team after splitting with Red Bull KTM earlier in the year.