You can’t teach an old dog new tricks — but why would you bother when the old tricks are still working so well?
Josh Coppins brought his Motocross World Championship Grand Prix experience into play in winning the premier races at the Taupo MX Fest, the first big hit-out of the new season.
The 38-year-old former world No2, who retired from fulltime racing three years ago and now manages the Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team, gave himself an assignment to ride the team’s MX1 class Yamaha YZ450F bike at the 30th annual MX Fest weekend.
His official MX1 class rider from Australia is not due in the country until January but Coppins proved he was still up to the task.
Coppins finished 1-1-1 overall. Ethan Martens, although required to race his Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke in the MX1 class, finished runner-up ahead of former MX Fest overall champion Brad Groombridge (Suzuki RM-Z450).
In the MX2 (250cc) class, Kayne Lamont (Altherm JCR Yamaha YZ250F) also went 1-1-1 to win overall, ahead of Hamish Harwood (CML Racing Team KTM 250F), and Cohen Chase (Yamaha YZ250F).
Chase’s younger brother, Wyatt Chase, took his Yamaha YZ125 to win the 125cc class; Darren Capill (Yamaha YZ450F) won the over-45 years veterans’ class, as well as winning the MX3 class; and Daniel Scrimgeour (Yamaha YZ450F) won the 35-44 years veterans’ class.
Emma Davis (Honda CRF250) won the women’s grade.
Also impressive were European 125cc No2 Josiah Natzke (Red Bull KTM 250F), Logan Blackburn (Honda Racing Team CRF250), Claude Griffith (Cyclespot KTM125), Ben Broad (BikesportNZ.com KTM 125) and Blake Gillard (Mr Motorcycles KTM 125).
Kiwi international Natzke finished fourth overall in the MX2 class and won the first of the all-capacities shoot-out feature races, finishing ahead of Knight and Coppins. Blackburn finished fifth overall in the MX2 class on debut for Honda while Gillard, who has not been a regular competitor for about two years, finished fourth overall in the senior 125cc class.
But the weekend belonged to Coppins, who also won the all-in feature series of shoot-out races.
The Motueka rider finished an unaccustomed third in the first of five shoot-out races, perhaps conserving his energy for the tougher races to follow, and powered on to win the next three races and ensure he was favourite to win the three-rider final showdown. He won that comfortably, ahead of Groombridge and Martens, and took the major honours for the weekend.
“It was a great weekend for the team,” said Coppins.
“We dominated MX1 and we dominated MX2 and we dominated the shoot-out. We dominated pretty much everything.
“We have Dean Ferris coming over from Australia in January to ride our MX1 bike, but, in the meantime, I think I did an okay job filling in,” said a modest Coppins.
“It seems I can do an okay job and fly the flag. knew I had to be well prepared to compete here this weekend and I think I obviously put in enough work.
“I didn’t ride great. My arms are tired and I my body position on the bike was not perfect, but I got the job done.
“As a team we will now tackle the Auckland Motocross Championships in December and ride at the Whakatane Summercross (just after Christmas), with me on the MX1 bike, the Yamaha YZ450F, but Dean (Ferris) will take over that role at the New Zealand Grand Prix at Woodville (in late January).
“I suppose, by me racing today, I showed my riders that I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I think they will respect me for that.”