Interviews 29 Mar 2016

Catching Up: Cody Cooper

New Zealand champion talks latest title win, Australia and more.

Winning a national motocross title is a huge achievement in its own right. Claiming four championships on the trot is reserved for only the top echelon of riders, and that’s exactly what The Honda Racing Team’s Cody Cooper achieved this year when he held off fierce charges from Dean Ferris and Todd Waters to stand atop the New Zealand Motocross Championship MX1 podium. We caught up with Coops to get his take on a hard-fought title, the chances of him returning to Australia this year and what the future holds.

Image: Andy McGechan (BikesportNZ.com).

Image: Andy McGechan (BikesportNZ.com).

First up, mate, congratulations on winning your fourth straight New Zealand Motocross Championship. That’s a pretty impressive record.

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with that. I’ve won five MX1 titles now and the last four in a row, and considering we’ve had some big Aussie names come over the last couple of years, it feels pretty good. I’m not sure what the record in a row is here in New Zealand but I’d say it’d be held by either Darryll or Shayne King; I must be starting to close in on it now though!

How was it this year, with both Dean and Todd coming over to do battle?

It made it more interesting, that’s for sure. Both those guys raced the GPs the past few years so they know how to ride a bike. Coming into the first round I felt fast and Dean was holding a similar speed to me, but I struggled with starts while he got great starts. I kind of lost my way a bit playing around with settings on the new Ohlins suspension; starts has always been one of my strengths so I knuckled down for the third and fourth rounds, found some good settings and got them sorted again. It was what I needed to get those points back. Also, I over trained too much early on and at the second round at Manawatu my legs were that stuffed I could hardly stand up in the last two motos. I had a bit of back trouble after that round as well, but that forced me to take it a bit easier coming into Rotorua and I felt awesome there. That made me realise that I’d been overtraining hard-out; it’s weird when you forget some of those things that you’ve learnt in the past and you find yourself making the same mistakes all over again. But yeah, Rotorua and Taupo went perfectly and I managed to pull back the points on Dean to take the title again.

What is it about the New Zealand MX Nationals that makes you find another gear?

I guess it’s easy training during our summer and my team let’s me do what I want to do. They give me all the equipment I need, but I’m my own boss and as long as I get the job done, then it’s all good. The team’s awesome in that respect. Shayne King hooked me up with all the product I need and the Ohlins suspension and I just get stuck into the job in front of me.

At the same time, you always seemed to struggle taking that speed and momentum over to Australia. Why do you think that is?

I don’t know. I think I can be just as fast and motivated if I’d found the right structure over there. You’ve got to be happy with where you’re at and to be honest, I never really felt 100 per cent settled and stoked with racing in Australia. Some of the tracks could be better, but I kind of got a bit bored with it. I might come back and use the final two rounds as preparation for the Motocross of Nations, and get some race-time under my belt but that’d be all I do this year, I think.

Image: Andy McGechan (BikesportNZ.com).

Image: Andy McGechan (BikesportNZ.com).

So you didn’t receive any interest after winning the New Zealand championship this year?

No, nothing. And it’s not worth me going over there as a privateer pouring all my money into a campaign and getting nothing out of it. I’d rather go to the US and do a couple of races there – it’ll cost me less money but I’ll probably get more recognition out of it if I do well – and pick and choose other events around the world that I want to race on my own terms. I’m getting older now, so I want to have fun with my racing.

So am I hearing that you’re planning to race in the States later this year?

Yeah, I’m pretty keen get over there for a couple of weeks and race the opening two rounds of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Hangtown and Glen Helen. I’m trying to work it all out at the moment, but I know a lot of people over there who’d be happy to help me out from my days racing there.

That sounds like a sweet plan, man. Between now and May you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve, though. What are your plans?

Just to ride really, get out on the mountain bike, ride for fun, get my fitness up and do some more coaching. The coaching’s been going pretty good, but I’m still learning how to get the word out there that I’ve got schools available. I really enjoy teaching others how to ride better and it’s a good feeling when you see them get a lot faster after a session.

Good stuff. Well thanks for the chat, bud. Hopefully we’ll see you at Toowoomba and Coolum at the end of the season.

Sounds good, boi. Catch ya then.

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