Josh Coppins has made his name in the sport of motocross.
He carved out an impressive motocross career competing in 11 World Championships from 1999 through to 2009. It included a second place finish in 2005.
The motocross legend is no stranger to the annual Burt Munro Challenge in Invercargill. He has competed in the supercross event and last year won the street race.
He feels at home at the Burt Munro Challenge.
This year the 38-year-old has added Friday night’s beach race to the list of events he will compete in during the four-day event.
“For me [the beach race] was on the bucket list, it was what Burt Munro was all about really. I thought if you come, you’ve got to do the beach race,” he said.
“This year year I thought lets do the beach race, like I said that is the main event. If you watch The World’s Fastest Indian that is what it is all about.”
Coppins was playing down his chances to swoop on the New Zealand Beach Race title on Friday night.
“It’s all new to me, I’ve done beach races but they have been more motocross type tracks on a beach. To be honest I think it will almost be a learning year the first year, just seeing how it all goes, more so with the bike setup,” he said.
“I know I’m not going to have the fastest bike, but I know I’ve got a bike that will finish and will be reasonably good.”
Coppins will race the supercross at Winton on Thursday night and on Sunday will also attempt to defend the street race title which he won last year.
“I will be using a Yamaha YZ450. I’ve got two bikes and I will be using two bikes across the events. I’ve got a supercross bike and a motard bike, which I am going to mix and match parts from both bikes for the beach race on Friday, and then back to the motard bike for Sunday.”
“I’m a little bit nervous about it because I’ve got a limited stock of parts here and they tell me the beach race is a bit of a bike killer.”
So just what is so appealing about the Burt Munro Challenge for a guy who has raced motorbikes all around the world?
“For me it is the fact it is motorbike enthusiasts that are here and not just from any certain discipline, we are talking motorbike enthusiasts on a whole,” Coppins said.
“We are talking about the type of people that could be 60 years old and have BSA Bantams which they work on every night. We could also be talking about young kids that are in the supercross and dream of being a supercross rider. It caters for every motorbike enthusiast.”
While Coppins will feature prominently as a competitor in the Burt Munro Challenge he has pretty much come out of retirement to do so.
His days competing are mainly over.
Coppins’ focus now is on his role as a manager/owner for Josh Coppins Racing, while also taking on plenty of coaching.
“Obviously the motorcycle market in New Zealand is relatively small, so to have a professional team is quite difficult. Therefore I have to diversify and we do coaching for Yamaha riders. I’m also a test rider for Yamaha working on launch of new products and development of new products. I also work closely with overseas riders, they send them to me for training, so we have riders come from Australia, Europe and Japan to prepare for their season.”
At a glance
What: NZ Beach Race Championships (Burt Munro Challenge)
Where: Oreti Beach, Invercargill
When: Friday, 6pm to 9pm