Catching Up With Josh Coppins
By Geoff Meyer
Josh Coppins has a special place in my heart. I know it sounds a little weak, but Josh arrived on the Grand Prix scene at a similar time to when I arrived as a journalist. Back in the early 1990's the New Zealand rode an Aussie GP, then headed to Europe in 1995 to battle the World's best. Names like Everts, Tortelli, Vohland, and Beirer were the top dogs and Coppins was just a young kid looking to live his dream.
Now some 15 years later the veteran of around 150 Grand Prix races is edging toward the end of what has been a rollercoaster career in Europe. What many people might not remember in 20 years time is that it was Coppins who gave both Mickael Pichon and Stefan Everts problems when those two legends were at the peak of their careers. And that 2007 injury that cost him a sure World Motocross Championship. More than 100 points ahead of second placed Steve Ramon the New Zealander crashed after a problem with the brakes on his bike at the Grand Prix of Czech Republic.
Coppins now rides for Aprilia, a is looking at making the 2010 season one that will send him into retirement with the same enjoyment that saw him arrive. He won't be a consistent podium finisher as he was for most of his career, instead he will be fighting for top five places, maybe even ten's, but you can count on one thing; the working-class rider will use all his experience to capture time in a bottle and get himself on top of the podium.
I can't remember if Josh calls us or if I called him, but we had a quick chat anyway and here is what he told us.
MXlarge: Josh, how's it going with the bike and yourself?
Coppins: We have problems, but not major problems. We seized an engine in the second race last weekend, but that engine had done every race this year, like five races and two days training. We wanted to test how long it would go, and it lasted four times longer than the GP's. It was the idea, people are saying the Aprilia isn't any good, but that engine did pretty well.
MXlarge: I guess riding for teams like Rinaldi Yamaha that isn't something you would come across, riding a bike until it broke?
Coppins: I wouldn't have ridden my Yamaha that long, no way, they just have a different way of testing. Yamaha would never let that happen because it would look bad for the company. Aprilia do it another way, maybe not the way I would do it, I wouldn't like a mechanical fault, do it more with test riders, but that is the way they work and the bike is good.
MXlarge: Are you riding okay in the Aprilia. Is it good enough?
Coppins: The bike is pretty good; I am not riding that well at the moment. Sunday Tony (Cairoli) and Max (Nagl) were way too fast, and I was struggling to keep with them, but I was the same speed as Tanel Leok. I am not riding that well, but I also broke a rib and took some time off.
MXlarge: What are the problems you are having with the bike?
Coppins: It's just little things, the first three races we had a problem with the clutch, but we got that sorted and now my starts are good. I started three and four in Malpensa and holeshot another race. I am more confident on the Aprilia out of the starts than the Yamaha. I have something for the KTM's with the Aprilia and on the Yamaha I never had anything for Nagl.
MXlarge: I guess you just have to hope some days you have a little luck and ride really well, and other days you're going to really struggle?
Coppins: That is it mate, some days I am going to go home pissed off and tired and go home unhappy, but other days I might ride well and get on the podium. I just have to work hard and keep improving the bike really. It's going to be some races good and some races I am going to have to really grit my teeth, which is pretty much what I expected.
MXlarge: What you got coming up before Bulgaria?
Coppins: I am training in Belgium this weekend, and then head to Bulgaria. I mean the bike is fast enough, but the Aprilia is strange, it used to be good on hard fast tracks, but now it's better on soft conditions. I am open minded, just go there and try and be ready.
MXlarge: What about Antonio Cairoli. I feel like he is riding better than ever. Has he been riding well in Italy?
Coppins: He is riding well than last year I believe, but he has great years in 2007 on the 250, he was very good. I think he is riding very well and the bike suits him, he's going well. But Max is also riding well. If it goes right for Max and it goes right, anything can happen. You know he's not going to have the consistency of Tony and he isn't going to have the fitness of Tony, but he gets good starts and you never know if something goes wrong with Tony then Max might just be there waiting. Look at Ramon in 2007.