Monster Energy / Star Yamaha Racing Manager Jeremy Coker on Eli Tomac

Let’s not forget, with bonuses, if you win a few extra races or titles throughout the year, you make a lot of money.
And that’s what I told him. You may not have the money guaranteed up front, but with what I plan to do with you, you will get that money back in a heartbeat.

Are you surprised to be successful so quickly?
Not surprising. We needed supercross last year to learn the bike, and last year kind of screwed us up with the Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday races because we couldn’t come back and test during the week. I’m sure every team will tell you that. So at the start of supercross, we weren’t that great, we took a break around Daytona, and boom, we just got better and better. We won outdoors, we learned a lot and it instilled a lot of confidence in our bike. We and Eli showed up at his home in Colorado with his handlebars and Dylan Ferrandis’ outboard suspension. The plan was to only do one week of motocross. But after two days he came in, put his hand up and said, “I can win on this bike.” Then we moved on to supercross testing and everything was perfect. We were very confident in Anaheim…and Anaheim pushed us back. We had to regroup and go back to work. Everyone on the team, our suspension guy Ricki, our crew chief Rich, everyone together, we focused quickly and fixed the problem immediately.

I think it’s no secret that Eli Tomac has always been a late bloomer and takes a little time to start early in the season. The reason for that, I think, and he himself has said so publicly, is that he got too locked in the past. Bringing him here at the start of the season, riding with 11,250 riders, that’s why it works well for him at the start of the season. That’s why he has the red plate. When you ride alone for so long, it takes time to get used to overtaking other riders, jumping next to other riders. And Eli and John, they knew it.

He said at Anaheim 1 you had to reset a bit, but I thought he looked good in qualifying. You weren’t satisfied.
Hey, I told my guys in Oakland when we went 1-2 [in qualifying]I said “Hey, we have the day down. But when that sun goes down, something happens. It was kind of our fault. Maybe we built a qualifying bike and not a bike main event. It has a lot to do with our starts which were pretty good. When you have 15 good guys, it’s not easy to get a good finish if you start there. We had to take our better departures.

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