Photos and Words By Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Eric Gass
Hometown: Nikoma Park, OK
Years Wrenching: 8
Rider: Cooper Webb
Past Riders: Ryan Clark, Phil Nicoletti, Lucas Morais, Max Anstie, Nick Paluzzi, Gareth Swanepoel, Travis Baker, Jessy Nelson
Growing up in the Midwest as an avid motocross rider and fan of the sport, Eric Gass admits that he loved tinkering with bikes just as much as riding and racing them. “I was usually the guy who was missing practice because I was helping someone put in a clutch or change the brake pads on their bike,” Eric explains. “I’ve just always had a passion to work on bikes.” But it wasn’t until he was working a full-time gig in a hospital out of high school when his supervisor at the time urged him to make a New Year’s resolution to take on a new challenge that the wrenches truly started turning. Heeding their advice, Eric immediately enrolled in MMI and began the path that ultimately led him and his current rider, Cooper Webb, to back-to-back 250 Supercross championships along with this year’s Lucas Oil Motocross Pro Motocross 250 title.
Eric credits his success to the great connections and experience gained from his gigs early in his career at Team Solitaire racing, Star Racing, and Troy Lee Designs. His return back home to Star Racing would come to the table at the same time that Cooper Webb was in need of a new mechanic, and Eric’s name kept coming up. “He and I had hung out a few times through mutual friends, and it was those mutual friends who knew we’d work well together because of our similar hard-work ethic.” The rest is history, and we wanted to showcase Cooper’s beautiful number-1W YZ250F that he completed his record-book 2016 season and ended his 250 career on. We gave Eric a ring, and he offered up all of the details of this championship-winning machine.
Powerplant and Mapping: Our motors are all built in-house and developed by our crew chief, Brad Hoffman, and our engine guy, Jeremy Coker. We use a handful of GYTR products and the Rekluse TorqDrive system, which are all available to the public right off the shelf, but there are also many factory internal parts that I can’t talk about! Brad puts countless hours on the dyno testing and tuning, and the GET system we use offers a lot of tuning options, launch control, and a tachometer unit on the fender that lights up in relation to the RPMs. Cooper likes a pretty strong hit of power in the midrange and wants it to pull through the top-end, and I think that shows in some of the obstacles he’s able to do out of the tight corners. He’s a bit more laid back than a lot of guys, but there will be a few races where he’ll ask for a little of this or a little of that as far as the mapping goes. Once he finds a map setting he likes, we’ll try to stick with that.
Surprisingly Stock: The entire front brake system is completely stock from the master cylinder to the caliper. The only thing we change out is the stock rotor for a Braking brand rotor, which is still the stock diameter, but the rotor itself gives a better feel at the lever. He likes his front brake lever pretty far out so it won’t hit his fingers if the brake fades in a moto. The rear brakes are also stock, and he prefers his brake pedal a little bit lower than the foot peg.
Suspension: KYB and our suspension guy, Brian Shimizu, do everything regarding the suspension—they have us dialed. Cooper ran KYB air forks this season, and usually finds a good setting early on in the testing season and then pretty much sticks with it. There were a few races this year where we actually didn’t change a thing! He prefers the rear of the bike to be a little lower and likes the suspension to be balanced and working together. And because people always ask, it’s super stiff for Supercross!
Rollers: The tires are Dunlop-spec tires, which are based off the MX3S production tire. The hubs are factory Yamaha but made to mimic the stock hubs, and they’re billet aluminum rather than cast aluminum, so they’re stronger. The hoops are Excel Takasago, which are also stronger to handle the rigors of all the hard landings in Supercross.
The Beautiful Details: FMF always hooks us up with pipes and also helps out with tuning their exhausts to our motors. They’ll sometimes have the trick end caps that are red or blue, and they always look sick! He runs the ODI half-waffle grips and prefers his throttle grip to be rolled down a little bit more so he can re-grip with the waffles in the right spot. He ran the Neken SFS triple clamps in Supercross, and that system gave a little bit of adjustability with air pressure to modify handlebar feel. D’COR Visuals makes our graphics, and his ribbed seat cover was originally a mud-race cover, but he liked it so much that we run it all the time now. His pegs are from Raptor, and they’re extra sharp—he definitely likes them sharp! For cooling, CV4 makes these really trick hoses that are high-temp/high-heat silicone with better flow, and we add a little bit further protection in the form of a heat sleeve on the hose by the header. We also add a second layer of hose on top of the outermost section so if there’s contact, it’s less likely to be pierced by a foot peg or something like that.
The Ideal Pilot: He’s really easy to work for and isn’t too hard on the bike. If he’s in a heated battle, the clutch will usually be smoked, but generally we can go an entire race day on the same clutch. The only thing he might do is tweak the front-end if he tips over!