KTM introduced its highly-revised SX-F lineup in 2022. The upgrades may have benefitted the production models, but the move forced two-time 450SX champion Cooper Webb and his mechanics to adapt to the new platform. The result: a seventh-place finish in the 2022 standings, Webb’s worst in the 450SX class.
Both KTM and Webb are intent on returning to the top of the standings in 2023, though. To bolster the North Carolina native, Team Orange is pulling out all the stops. For an exclusive look at the outfit’s latest measures, media outlet Racer X joined both Webb and Red Bull KTM Factory Team mechanic Carlos Rivera in the Anaheim 2 round on January 28, 2023.
Rivera spared no secrets either, promptly revealing Webb’s pet peeves and bike setup particulars. KTM may boast its Ready to Race slogan, but not even its 2023 450 SX-F Factory Edition flaunts the same 52mm fork legs and custom-made Akrapovic exhaust that outfits Webb’s race bike.
Of course, all racers have their preferences, but apparently, a stiff seat, throttle housing position, and front brake make a world of difference to the two-time champ. Still, Webb will need more than a dialed machine to add to his trophy case in 2023.
Webb took no prisoners in 2021. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider finished the 450 Supercross season with eight wins and a 35-point cushion to second-place finisher Ken Roczen. Webb not only acquired his second 450SX title that year but also avenged his failed title defense in 2020, wherein he ended the season just 25 points behind then-Kawasaki rider Eli Tomac.
Unfortunately, history repeated itself in 2022, when Tomac foiled Webb’s title defense once again—this time aboard a Yamaha. While Tomac remained at the fore, Webb slipped down the standings last year due, in part, to the changes made to the 450 SX-F.
Enter 2023, and the Red Bull KTM squad is more focused than ever. With Webb and Tomac trading the last four Supercross 450 championships, it looks like the pair could square off once again this year.
After three rounds, Tomac currently retains a narrow lead with 69 points. Both Webb and Honda’s Chase Sexton trail behind by just four points. We’ll see Webb's tricked-out 450 SX-F makes the difference over the next few months.