By Dick Law. Josh Coppins was a motocross household name and had a GP carrier that stretched 11 years. As New Zealand’s most successful motocross rider, he raced in the UK and at world level and came tantalisingly close to winning a world title until injury halted his charge.
Born in Motueka, New Zealand back in March 1977, he started in the two-stroke area of 250cc GPs in 1999 and finished seventh at his first attempt. He backed that year’s championship with 4th, 6th and 2nd to Frenchman Mickael Pichon in the 2002 championship. He switched to the new, at the time, four-stroke world of MX1 in 2003 where he finished 11th and backed that up by winning at least one GP every year till he retired in 2009, with championship positions ranging from the lowest, seventh, to his best result of second to Stefan Everts in 2005 in the premier class. In a world championship career lasting 15 years, he racked up 12 GP wins and 50 podiums.
The year 2007 was a heart-breaker as Josh, with three rounds to go and a 100-point lead in the world championship, broke his shoulder blade. He was forced to sit out the remaining rounds and watch Steve Ramon eat away at his lead and take the world championship title, with Kevin Strijbos second.
Josh has always had strong ties with the UK having been based here when he rode for a British team and also married in to a well know motocross family. He combined a family holiday to a chance to ride at the recent Mike Brown Memorial meeting which is combined with the “Huck Cup” race in memory of the late Mark Hucklebridge, who was a good friend. The meeting was staged at Rushmead Race Park close to Marshfield past home of both Mark where MotoHead caught up with Josh to find out what came after motocross for him.
MotoHead: What sees you round this side of the planet?
Josh: Apart from a bit of a holiday I also look after Courtney Duncan in the woman’s world championship as she rides a JCR Yamaha and her first two rounds are next weekend and the weekend after, so I am staying to attend them as well.
MotoHead: What do you think of the racing here at Marshfield today?
Josh: It’s horrible. But Tomas Brown (Son of Mike) has put a heap loads of work in to this event so we have to try and make the best of what we have.
MotoHead: You knew Mark Hucklebridge well didn’t you?
Josh: I use to race with Mark a lot at the GPs and Tomas has been on at me to attend this meeting for quite a while, but the dates just never seemed to work out. But this year I had an opening so here I am, in the rain and mud.
MotoHead: What do you think of the young talent out on the track today?
Josh: I have been following the GP’s from home and the UK riders seem to be coming on strong, not only in MX1 and MX2 but there is a lot of talent coming through the EMX classes. I would say that UK motocross is probably at the strongest it’s been for many years.
MotoHead: What do you do to earn a crust back home in New Zealand?
Josh: I work Yamaha looking after their racing interests, testing the bikes and attending show’s and corporate events. I have a small property development company and I also live on a farm and that keeps me busy and combined with a bit of rider coaching I don’t have much spare time. And, like I said, I run Courtney over here in Europe.