It's amazing really… Cooper Webb is your 2019 Monster Energy Supercross champion. Let that sink in for a moment, yeah? Here is what Webb told us on the PulpMX Show after the Monster Energy Cup about being teammates with Marvin Musquin:
"I'm not in a situation where I'm the guy right now. I said, ‘If anything, you are the championship contender. Sure, I want to be there, but right now it's a situation for me to learn from you, on and off the track, and be the best teammate I can be. I hope that me and you are battling at supercross and going for wins, but you have won a lot of races. You are a championship contender.' I said, ‘For me, I need to get to the point of winning the races first.' I'm here to learn. I'm sure there'll be days that are going to be tougher than others and who knows? I might beat him and he might beat me."
Yeah, he didn't take long to learn! Webb won seven races this year to take the title pretty easily really. He basically had it clinched with a race to go and it's a very unexpected title win, that's for sure. We were all scratching our heads wondering if Webb could rebuild himself after two years of injuries and mixed results at Yamaha.
Congrats to Chase Sexton of the GEICO Honda team and Dylan Ferrandis of the Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha team for their titles by the way, great stuff by both of them. Condolences to the thousands of Adam Cianciarulo fans on that heartbreak that we all watched.
We have seen some very unexpected titles in the sport's history and Coop's win got me thinking if we had ever seen any other win that was more unexpected. After breaking it all down, here is my list of most unexpected 450SX titles ever. Onto the rankings…
6: Last season it was Rockstar Husqvarna's Jason Anderson capturing an unlikely 450SX title after the main challengers, Kawasaki's Eli Tomac and KTM's Marvin Musquin, both missed a race early on with injuries. Anderson won only four races and none after round ten and, before we knew it, he was the champion. Coming into the year, Anderson had won two career 450SX races so there was some hope he could blossom into what he did but for his first title he did a fair bit of managing.
5: In 1982, Honda's Donnie Hansen won the title by the narrowest of margins over Suzuki's Mark Barnett. Hansen hadn't even won a 250SX race before he took the Anaheim opener in '82. Hansen wasn't looked at as ready to win a title this year, it was Barnett or Bob Hannah or even past champion Mike Bell that were all thought as better choices for the title. Hansen won four races, Barnett had some mechanicals and that was it. Hansen was a very unexpected 1982 250SX champion.
4: 2019 450SX title winner Cooper Webb. I put him here because he was an all-timer in the amateur ranks and he did win three 250 titles. McGrath’s title win in '93 was like that also in that he dominated 125SX for two years, he, like Webb, was a champion.
3: Like Ryan Dungey, Jeremy McGrath was a very accomplished 125SX rider going into his rookie year in 1993 on factory Honda. He was thought to have a good chance to capture a title one day but he would have to watch his teammate Jeff Stanton, Yamaha's Damon Bradshaw, Kawasaki's Mike Larocco and Mike Kiedrowski for a year or so before he would challenge for a title. Well, throw that out the window as MC won the third race of the year and then walked to his first of many 450SX titles. Bradshaw and Stanton never won another race after this 1993 season which if you had told someone that in mid-year of 1992, they would've called the cops on you. McGrath would then never really stop winning for another nine years.
2: In 2010, Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey was moved up to the big class (450SX) after a great 250F career that included a SX and MX title. He was looked at as great future champion after he got his feet wet in his rookie year. Then pre-season favourites Chad Reed and James Stewart both got hurt early on, Kevin Windham continued to be off and on, Davi Millsaps continued to not train and Dungey and Ryan Villopoto (in his second year) grabbed the mantle from the vets. RV won more races but got hurt himself near the end and poof… The 450SX title went to a rookie kid that barely had won anything as an amateur.
1: In 1989 an unheralded workhorse type of rider was snatched from factory Yamaha to Honda with no wins of any type since turning pro. Jeff Stanton had showed some promise here and there on Yamaha’s and had podiums indoors and out, but Honda was really hiring him to ride shotgun for his buddy Rick Johnson. Stanton rode with Johnson in the off-season, got a much better bike in the Honda from the Yamaha he was used to and when RJ crashed late in Atlanta 1989 while leading it was Stanton getting his first professional win. He then proceeded to win the next three 450SX titles and become an all-timer. It came out of nowhere and was something no one saw coming so, for the reasons being that he hadn't won anything as a professional in the previous two years and then became a 450SX title winner, it's number one on our list.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: KTM Images/Simon Cudby