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Joshua Coppins

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Josh Coppins

Born: 1977 -

Inducted into MNZ Hall of Fame: 2017

At the age of just 16 years old, Josh Coppins raced his first International race meeting , it was 1993 at the Australian round of World 125cc Championship at Manjimup.


Josh had won the 1992 New Zealand 14-15 year old 80cc Junior Motocross Championship and would continue to win numerous Motocross and Supercross domestic events and championships.


As one of the promising new blood on the scene in the early 1990s  in New Zealand, It was International Motocross stage he really had his sights set on.  Following his fellow countrymen Darryll King, Shayne King and Daryl Atkins on to the World stage.


After winning the New Zealand Supercross Championship he headed for Europe in 1995 where he embarked on his first full seaon in the FIM Motocross 250cc World Championship.  Riding a private Suzuki he would finish the year in 41st after scoring two points in the series.


The following year in 1996, after winning the New Zealand Grand Prix in Woodville in both 125cc and 250cc classes he once again headed to Europe . It was a struggle, still doing it alone in Europe, but he improved his result and finished 23rd in the World Championship. This year he saw his fellow countryman Shayne King crowned 500cc World Champion.


Back in New Zealand he would win the 1997 Supercross Championship again and also the 250 and 350 4 stroke Motocross championship.  Returning to Europe to place 17th at the end of the season.


The next year 1998 Josh took out the New Zealand 250cc and 125cc Motocross Championship and also the 250cc and 125cc Supercross Championship and 250cc New Zealand Motocross GP at Woodville, headed back to Europe and almost broke in to the top ten of the World Championship, finishing 13th.


Before heading back to Europe in 1999, Josh would take the NZ Supercross double again and also win the NZ Motocross Grand Prix in both the 125cc and 250cc class. Back in Europe this was the year that turned a few heads, still riding in a private team he would finish the year in seventh.  The Factory Suzuki team offered him a ride for the 2000 season.  After years of trying he had landed a factory ride.  He didn't disappoint he would take several podium places and wind up fourth in the World Championship title chase.


The 2001 was the season that both Josh and Suzuki were out for the top spot.  However it was team mate Mickael Pichon who took the title.  Josh ended up in sixth.


A change of team and bike took place for the 2002.  Riding for Honda, Josh was no longer a rookie, he was an experienced campaigner.  Often on the Podium that year he would finish second to Pichon in the championship.


Another change of team in 2003, but still riding Honda for the CAS Honda Team. The year started off bad, with Josh having a bad crash in the off season in the USA, breaking both legs and back.  Despite the injuries he would ride and finished 11th overall in the World Championship.


In 2004 new classes were established for the World Championship, they would now be called MX1 and MX2.  This was the break through year for Josh, taking his first Grand Prix win in Great Britain and winning two heats, one in South Africa and one in Great Britain along the way.  What was considered a rebuilding year, Josh would finished  third in the championship behind Everts and Pichon.  Again he would have to watch another Kiwi become World Champion.  Fellow Kiwi Ben Townley would win the MX2 World Championship.


Ten years after his first full season of World Championship racing.  In 2005 Josh would battle all season with Stefan Everts and Ben Townley.  He dominated the Swedish and South African Grand Prix and was constantly pushing the Belgium Everts all season.  Once again Everts won the championship and Josh once again was runner up.


Circumstances once again hindered Josh in 2006.  A shoulder injury before the start of the season delayed his start to his campaign, he would not resume racing until round eight, where he was on the podium straight away.


Such was the dominance of Everts, it was only Josh who stopped his winning streak. There were no other Grand Prix winners in 2006 other than Stefan Everts and Josh Coppins.  The Kiwi won the Northern Ireland Grand Prix and finished on the podium at every round until the last Grand Prix in France where he finished fifth.  However the year finished on a high when he finished on the podium at the Motocross of Nations riding for Team New Zealand who finished third overall .


A new team and bike in 2007, Josh moved to the works Yamaha team, replacing Stefan Everts.  He was the clear favorite to take the title. The title chase started strong with eight straight podiums in a row, including winning five Grand Prixs.  Building a 107 point lead in the championship, it was looking good until the Czech round.  Josh crashed and injured his shoulder so bad that he would not recover enough to keep the lead in the Championship.  Finishing in third again.


Still very disappointed about the result from the previous season, it would be a tough season for Josh in 2008.  Finishing fifth in the Championship.  However three podiums and one Grand Prix victory was enough to continue with the Yamaha factory team.


The final year with Yamaha in 2009, was another hard struggle, finishing sixth in the Championship, taking a Grand Prix win in Bulgaria and another two podium places.


The 2010 season was his last in the Grand Prix  paddock, seventeen years after his first World Championship event saw another new team and a new challenge.  Josh finished off his career racing for Italian Aprilia factory, racing a twin cylinder machine. Josh annouced his retirement at the second to last Grand Prix of the year, while holding 11th in the championship.


In his professional career Josh had thirteen World Championship Grand Prix wins, was Twice runner up in the World Championship, Two British Championships, One Belgium Championship, One Italian Championship and Two Australian championships and not forgetting 21 New Zealand and Island Championships.


Josh still occasionally races when time permits and deserves all the recognition of his peers, as part of a Golden Era of New Zealand Motocross.  A time when New Zealand riders performed outstandingly on the World Stage.


Racing is a fickle business and if it had not been for that fickle finger of fate, New Zealand could have easily had another World Champion.


Josh continues to educate, train and pass on his racing knowledge to a new generation. Still considered one of the best in the Motocross world, he maintains links to many of the companies and organisations around the World, so continues to stay on the front foot of all aspects of the sport.


In 2014 he started the Altherm JCR Yamaha race team as manager.  To date the team has won seven New Zealand Titles with various riders.  JCR has two riders competing in Europe in 2017.  Courtney Duncan in the FIM Womens World MX Championship and Dylan Walsh in the European MX250 class.


Written for Motorcycling New Zealand Inc ©copyright 2017



Ian Dawson