Josh Coppins interview
Former GP winner and world number two, Josh Coppins has made a quick return to Europe to visit his children in the UK, and we caught up with him to ask about his visit, the influx of young Australians into the MXGP, MX2 and EMX series, and also about the 2017 MXGP series.
Working in both New Zealand and Australia with Yamaha, Coppins has seen a lot of the talented young Australians, and has a firm opinion on what will help these young riders perform, or go home empty handed.
MXlarge: Josh, back in England visiting your kids. How tough is that living so far away?
Coppins: Its pretty tough, but it is what it is what it is. I am doing more with Courtney Duncan in Europe in 2017, so I will be over here more, and you just have to make the best of it.
MXlarge: There are like 10 young Australians coming to race the GP’s in 2017. What has brought this on, I mean half of them I haven’t even heard their names?
Coppins: Look, I don’t know all of them, I know most of them. The older ones who have been racing MX2, I have followed them in Australia. In 2016 we won the MX2 title with Jay Wilson, and obviously Jed Beaton I have worked with and I have watched Caleb Ward, both those guys are coming over. I know even more guys going over. I think it’s great, but it’s going to be tough for all of them.
MXlarge: How can it be possible that the European teams can find spots for these young kids?
Coppins: Every rider is in a different position, some of them have pretty good deals and I am assuming some are paying for their rides. Australia is a big market for brands, so there is an amount of good will from the manufacture, and that helps for starters to get a foot in the door. The Australian competition is good, and I think the teams in Europe are looking to take a chance with somebody and give then a shot and if somebody makes calls and does what he has to do to get a ride, the teams appreciate that, instead of some kid just putting his hand out and expecting something. These Australian kids are willing to travel to the other side of the world.
MXlarge: What riders do you think will stand out from this group?
Coppins: Obviously I worked with Hunter Lawrence before he went to the the world juniors and before he went to CLS Kawasaki. To me Hunter is special, he has a lot of X factory about him. And you already saw that, the first year in Europe he won the EMX. Jed Beaton has a really good technique, good speed, good attitude, he has potential, his only downside is he is already really big for a 250, so he needs a good bike and team around him.
MXlarge: There is so much talent in the world of motocross at the moment. Its nearly impossible to pick one riders technique over anothers, they all look so talented. What will be the difference for these kids?
Coppins: Yes, there are so many good riders, with a lot of talent at the moment, both in Australia and around the world, and for me, its more about making the right decision, at the right time. Have the right people around them and that will make them a success or not.
MXLarge: If you look at the guys who came from Australia or New Zealand, guys like the King brothers, yourself, Ben Townley, or even Jeff Leisk, who I believe was the most talented of that group, but didn’t have the mental staying power to remain in Europe long enough to win a championship. That toughness that the kiwis had, that is also very important right?
Coppins: I agree, and it’s going to be a steep learning curve, but the ones who want to work hard, get good people around them, they will be the successful ones. Maybe not the most talented, but you need to make good decisions for your future.
MXlarge: You mentioned about technique in the Australian series, and how many talented riders there are. It’s the same in the MXGP series, be it MXGP, MX2, EMX, whatever, so many guys with perfect techniques. If you think back to your racing days, a lot of guys didn’t have good techniques, so the good technique really just puts you back in the level playing field with everyone else, its not an advantage anymore.
Coppins: You are right, and I think it comes from a few things. There are a lot of riders around now, I mean guys like Stefan Everts, Marnique Bervoets, Brian Jorgensen, Yves Demaria, myself and that is just a few off the top of my head and these guys are all helping the younger riders, and you can also get hold of so much information online to improve your technique. Its all about having good people around you, to get the very most out of what you have.
MXlarge: Its funny you talk about the former riders in the paddock helping. I talked to Marc de Reuver last week and this week Rasmus Jorgensen, both who are working with factory riders in 2017. Is that something you would consider doing in the future?
Coppins: I do it a little in New Zealand with some New Zealand guys and obviously I look after Dean Ferris in New Zealand and Courtney in Europe. Would I do it full time in Europe, it would have to be the right situation. I have a good thing going in the southern hemisphere, and with the girls racing, it might not excite them, but I really like working with Courtney, and with my family it means I can do seven races rather than 20. To be honest, I am not in a position to trying to do 20 Grand Prix’s. Right now I am comfortable doing what I am doing.
MXlarge: I can imagine its nice to be back in Europe, but getting off the plane with this weather I can’t see it being similar to sitting in New Zealand with 30 degree’s and sunshine.
Coppins: Its catch 22 really. I love my life at home, but like I said its catch 22. You are probably the same Geoff, you probably get off the plane in Australia and think how awesome it is, but you also love your life in the Grand Prix’s and in Europe.
MXlarge: For sure, I can live with both. I was speaking to Dean (Ferris) this week and we talked about working with you again in New Zealand. What is your opinion of Dean and his future. He has won a GP, and still has good potential I think?
Coppins: To me its all about the team around you, and for Dean the Yamaha as improved a lot, but it comes down to the team. A lot of people don’t see too much what is going on down under and I don’t know if they understand the level of CDR Yamaha. They level of CDR Yamaha is very good. When I came back from Europe I thought I was taking a step back, but it wasn’t at all, and I think that helps Dean a lot. it brings him confidence. I think he has potential and he has learnt how to manage a championship and I think he has all the confidence to come back to Europe, and be successful, or whatever he decides to do.
MXlarge: One more question Josh. 2017 and MXGP. Herlings is moving up, what do you think will happen there?
Coppins: I think he needs to stay humble and keep his two feet on the ground. Not get too excited in the moment. If he does that and can concentrate and build slowly, he can stay safe, if he gets excited, then he will have it tough. In my opinion it comes down to three riders, Romain (Febvre), (Tim) Gajser, and Jeffrey (Herlings). It is the one that will stay healthy and I think Antonio (Cairoli) will be right there if one, or all three make a mistake.
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