CDR Yamaha's Josh Coppins reflects on his title-winning MX Nationals campaign with MotoOnline.com.au.
New Zealand’s Josh Coppins has been a stalwart in professional motocross for 17 seasons, finishing on the best possible note in 2012 with victory in the premier MX1 class of the MX Nationals, Australian Motocross Championship.
A second place overall at Coolum was enough to clinch this year’s title for CDR Yamaha by 11 points, but following the Motocross of Nations at Lommel in Belgium on 30 September Coppins will hang up his helmet once and for all when it comes to pro racing.
MotoOnline.com.au spoke to him after Queensland’s MXN finale to speak about this season, his career and what we can expect from him at the MXoN next month. Needless to say, Australia will miss The Lizard when the gates drop next season.
Congratulations on a spectacular championship mate, awesome job. It must feel good to lock this title up as you head into retirement…
Yeah, it does. It’s a great feeling and it’s great for the sponsors, because it’s been a tough year with Yamaha losing the title sponsor and then also with Jay [Marmont] moving onto Kawasaki.
It’s been really nice to stay on top, making it five or six championships in a row for Yamaha. It’s now 36 championships for Yamaha in 20 years, so all of that together with my retirement, it’s been really, really good.
A special point that you mentioned there from the season is that you’ve given CDR Yamaha a fifth straight MX1 title in their 20th anniversary season.
It is, you know, I think it shows how good the team is and you only have to look at the results. I’m just really happy to be able to give back to them, giving me a home after coming back from Europe. I’ve really enjoyed the racing, so it was just nice to repay all the sponsors and the team, especially with my retirement as well.
You said you were treating Coolum like any other race, but of course the memories from 2011 were still pretty fresh. Was it a relief when you crossed the line in moto three?
Yeah it was, but it was more of a relief when I got around the first corner to be honest with you. I had a wee talk with Dacka after the first two races, they went to plan, and then I said “what do I do? Do I go for the win or just play it by ear?”.
He said to go for the holeshot, which I did and got that, then he said go from there and see how you feel. If it feels right winning then win, but I was quite nervous because of 2011, like you say, was fresh.
I didn’t want to enter into a battle with Todd [Waters], which was a little bit unfortunate I know, because the crowd would have enjoyed it and it would have been nice to go out with a win. 2011 was too fresh, so I decided to play it a little bit safe.
One thing I’ve noticed this year is that whenever Waters put the pressure on, you’ve been able to respond whether it’s on the race track with raw speed or in the points chase when he caught right up. Does that just come down to experience? Did you even notice that?
It comes down to experience and just kind of dedication and bloody mindedness really, being focused. I was a little bit disappointed in my fifth and sixth rounds, which fell directly before and after the six-week break. I had other things on my mind and wasn’t focused, so I let a big points lead slip.
I gave Todd a chance, a sniff I guess you could say, and he took it with both hands, so it’s a credit to him. I’m a little disappointed with that, I knew my break up in Europe wasn’t that good, so I really had to get back on the farm and get focused. As soon as I did that, I was able to control the championship.
Where would you rate this championship as far as your career goes? You obviously raced the world championship and did so well in that, but you also raced and won various national championships during your time overseas. Is this one a special one for you?
It’s definitely one of my best, if not the best. I’ve won a bunch of New Zealand ones, Italian and English championships, but never the world championship, which was obviously my goal. I didn’t get that, so I would say this is the main one because of the way the whole year went. I really enjoyed my time with the team, enjoyed my racing and I enjoyed the bike.
The Yamaha’s had a bad rap over the last couple of seasons, but for me personally this is one of the best bikes I’ve ridden – one of my favourite bikes of my whole career. It all just sort of came together, a nice atmosphere to race in.
To work with Dacka, he just sort of let me get on with my job, although a couple of times there he may have been panicking, wondering what I was doing flying back to Europe and stuff, he supported me all the way. The whole thing makes it one of the, or the most special championship I’ve won.
Next up is the Motocross of Nations in Belgium. That will be a nice way to bow out of the sport as part of team NZ, won’t it?
It will be. I’ve been really focused on this championship in Australia, so now it’s over I need to get reorganised and keep pushing on to try and do a great job for New Zealand. We’ve got a new team with Kayne Lamont in it as well, so I’ll help him out as much as possible.
I’ll go back and ride with my old team at Rinaldi Yamaha, which will be nice. I can’t think of a better way to finish it all off.
And post-racing… any more news on that at this stage? Will we see you in Australia at all next year in any other roles?
It’s still a little bit early, but I’m planning to come to Phillip Island during the supercross series. I’m a huge fan of MotoGP, but I’m coming there more so in a CDR role – I think you’re going to have to watch this space on that role.
Dacka and I are definitely thinking about it and working on it, as well as Yamaha and Yamaha in New Zealand. There’s a lot of change going on, so it’s a work in progress.
Okay well thank you as always Josh, it’s been a pleasure watching you raise the bar for the past two seasons.
Thanks and thanks to everyone for their support.