Interview: Josh Coppins
Josh Coppins, an ex top rider in the MXGP rider has made a welcome return to the MXGP paddock during the 2017 season. He now has his own team and is running the very talented Courtney Duncan in the WMX class and has took the class by storm. It’s a real shame she got injured earlier in the season, especially when it wasn’t her fault! It means she will miss out on the title in 2016 which is unfortunate for her.
Since Coppins was a top GP rider, plenty of things have changed in the paddock. There are more classes than ever, more over-sea GP’s and the format has totally changed.
We decided we would catch up with Coppins to see how he is getting on running his team and to discuss about the changes in the MXGP paddock.
Gatedrop: Josh! Switzerland went pretty good with Courtney Duncan back and straight to winning ways again!
Josh Coppins: Yes, it was a good come back. I knew her speed would be fine, she has had three months sitting at home to think about her come back and I knew she would be hungry. The only question mark was her fitness but she rode smart and didn’t push too hard in the second moto, it couldn’t have gone better really.
Gatedrop: Also, you were running Jed Beaton in the EMX250 class, how did that come about and were you happy with how he got on even with some bad luck?
Josh Coppins: I’ve followed Jed for a while now, we lent him a bike for the NZ MX Nationals where he finished second. After the incident in Germany with Courtney she wasn’t in a championship position so I decided to help Jed out. His speed was ok but in the end he had some bad luck. I think it was still good for him and he now knows where he needs to improve.
Gatedrop: Would you be interested in bringing Jed over to compete in the full series in 2017?
Josh Coppins: That would be nice but I can’t do it, my deal with Yamaha is only for WMX. I’d like to help him and I see potential but I am not in the position to do it, it wouldn’t be fair on Courtney, Jed or Bjorn our mechanic. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and this one isn’t in the best interest for us or Jed.
Gatedrop: How frustrating was it that Courtney got injured earlier in the season and it wasn’t even her fault?
Josh Coppins: At the time it was really hard to accept, I felt sorry for her. Currently in six moto’s she has won four, had a second and a fourth in the other and she was leading in Germany, this has even it harder. Sometimes things can happen out of your control and this was one of them, we talked about it and all we could do is focus on coming back stronger.
Gatedrop: You’re back in the MXGP paddock this year as a team owner, how much has the paddock changed since you’ve stopped racing?
Josh Coppins: I think for the better, the fields are full and the teams are trying very hard. We are going to many overseas venues, I know for Europeans they maybe don’t like this but coming from NZ i think its great. The level in MXGP has never been higher and the racing is good. Sure, it can be better in some areas but you can never please everyone.
Gatedrop: People give Youthstream a lot of hate but it’s not easy to run a World Championship, from your perspective how would you say they are doing running the series?
Josh Coppins: I think good. Look, I am looking at it with three hats, an ex rider, a team manager and a fan – all three tick the boxes for me. I know the real old school fans may not be so happy but life changes and you have to move forward, for sure YS had some trouble changing things but for me right now like I said as a team I’m happy to bring sponsors. I’m happy with what we have to pay, I love the racing, seeing full gates, lots of new riders coming through and the level is high so it’s cool.
Gatedrop: The format has changed quite a lot, what’s your thoughts on the format with the age rule in MX2 etc?
Josh Coppins: To be honest I don’t think this is perfect. I don’t mind it but I don’t like the no age rule in EMX, I’d prefer that to be U19 and then mx2 maybe 24 but i also understand the guys that are too old and can’t get a deal in MXGP need somewhere to go, but it doesn’t quiet work at the moment I think. One thing is for sure, it’s becoming a young man’s sport, you have to be good young and show something fast.
Gatedrop: Have you been impressed with how Tim Gajser has performed in his rookie season in the MXGP class?
Josh Coppins: Yes for sure, I don’t see it any different than Romain (Febvre) though. In fact Roman was even more impressive for me as he wasn’t MX2 world champion. I’m looking forward to next year too! For me it’s between Jeffrey (Herlings) Roman (Febvre) and Tim (Gajser). It’s not the fastest that will win the title, it’s the one with the best starts and that stays healthy.
Gatedrop: Jeffrey Herlings will move into the MXGP class for 2017, how do you think he will do in that class?
Josh Coppins: If he’s healthy he will be upfront, I think it will be harder than he thinks and the people around him thinks though. I’m looking forward to see how he manages the competition as this week in and week out will be new for him. I hope he stays healthy and I wish him the best as I like him as a rider.
Gatedrop: Eli Tomac has just dropped out of team USA for the MXDN, what’s your thoughts on that? Also, which country do you see winning in Italy?
Josh Coppins: It’s hard to bet against France, America will be close in second. I find it sad to not see the very best riders represent their countries but I respect their decision. You or I are not doing their schedule, we don’t know their issues with doing it. We can’t point the finger and we just have to hope that in the future they are in a position to do the event.
Gatedrop: Do you see yourself running an MXGP/MX2 team in the future? If so, could it happen within the next few years?
Josh Coppins: My kids live in the UK and I love my life in New Zealand but if I got the opportunity to be involved with a good team or the right sponsor then yes i’d love to. I’d love the challenge and to be closer to my kids. If you had asked me this a few years ago it seemed impossible but when I think about what JCR has done in the past few years we have come a long way and it seems more possible. Currently we want to improve in NZ, then win a title with Courtney and do a great job for our sponsors, from here we will see what it brings.
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