Motorsport: Ace rider swaps track for tactics

By Andy McGechan

Coppins is obvious choice, writes Andy McGechan

Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper (Suzuki) is expected to be in the Team New Zealand squad bound for Germany. Photo / Andy McGechan,
Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper (Suzuki) is expected to be in the Team New Zealand squad bound for Germany. Photo / Andy McGechan,

Motueka's Josh Coppins is no stranger to battling the world's elite head on, although he now has a new role that will involve brains rather than brawn.

The 36-year-old former Grand Prix motocross star will be manager for New Zealand's assault on the "Olympic Games of motocross", the Motocross of Nations, set for Germany in late September.

The former New Zealand, British and Italian motocross champion - and the current Australian open class motocross champion seems the obvious choice for New Zealand's Motocross of Nations team boss. "I put my name forward about a month ago," said Coppins. "Everything just seemed to tie in with me managing the team in Germany. I have raced at and won at this track (Teutschenthal, near Halle) during my GP career and it was actually the scene of my last double GP race win, in 2008.

"Now that Ben Townley and I have retired from full-time professional racing, it means Team New Zealand is in a rebuilding phase. My role will be to advise the selectors about who would be suitable to step up.

I will give them my thoughts but the final decision will come down to people such as MNZ motocross commissioner Bryan Davidson.

"We need to announce the team make-up at least six-to-eight weeks prior to the Motocross of Nations and that means we should have it all worked out by early August.

"We need to have time to prepare as a team and I'll be monitoring the Kiwis who are currently racing in Australia and back home, to ensure we have the best team possible. Riders who feel they are in the mix should concentrate on staying healthy and performing well.

"Obviously Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper will be one rider we'll look at closely to be in the team again, but other riders will be catching the eye of the selectors, too."

Coppins said it was a huge honour for a rider to be selected to race for his country at the Motocross of Nations and New Zealand had a proud history in the event. Team New Zealand has been on the podium on three occasions: at Foxhills, in England, in 1998; at Namur, in Belgium, in 2001, and at Matterley Basin, in England, in 2006.

In all three instances, Coppins was one of the New Zealand riders.

Cooper, Coppins and Taupo's Townley were the New Zealand team which finished fourth in France in 2005 and third in England in 2006.

Coppins and Cooper were again teammates - this time with rider Kayne Lamont, of Mangakino, as the team's third rider - when Team New Zealand finished 15th overall in the deep sand of Lommel, in Belgium, last season.

Cooper has his fingers crossed that he is selected for the squad again this time around. "I hope I do get picked for the Motocross of Nations squad. I have raced at this German track before, although it was a Grand Prix event when I was about 17, so that's a long time ago, but I think we'll do well there."

- NZ Herald

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