New Zealand‘s Josh Coppins isn’t a rider who likes to be anywhere but at the front of the pack.
After 15 years on the Grand Prix scene the man from Motueka is still holding his own, as one of perhaps half a dozen men capable of winning GP races and, fingers crossed, the ultimate prize, that elusive world title.
The 32-year-old factory Yamaha rider is currently holding down fourth place in the championship but the man at the top, fellow Yamaha rider Antonio Cairoli, of Italy, is starting to creep away from the chasing bunch.
Cairoli leads the championship by a comfortable 30 points from Coppins’ Yamaha team-mate, Italian defending world champion David Philippaerts, he is 43 points ahead of third-ranked German KTM rider Max Nagl, and Cairoli is a massive 53 points ahead of the Kiwi charger.
It’s going to take hard work, and some luck for Coppins to come back from that. Hard work won’t be a problem – Josh is the hardest worker in the GP paddock -but if anyone in the series deserves a little luck, then it’s the rider from the tip of New Zealand’s South Island.
“Round one was wet and muddy and I finished sixth, that was good,” said Coppins as he analyses the season so far.
“Then I won Bulgaria, got sick for Turkey and Holland and had pretty average results. In Portugal I was fourth, which was okay.”
Coppins finished fourth overall at the Spanish GP and repeated that result at the British GP a fortnight later. Just over a week ago Coppins finished the day sixth overall at the French GP, once again just shy of reaching the podium.
He agrees that consistency is a good thing if he’s to win the championship, but consistently fourth or sixth is not what he wants.
“I have just been trying to rebuild after being sick, that’s it really. I got the flu and was basically just sick. In Spain I had some good starts and my riding was not too bad but I did not have much strength.
“I think Tony Cairoli is riding very, very well but there is still a long way to go in the season and Tony can make mistakes.
“I know I need to start making ground on Tony, but it is easier said than done. I just need to get it going again and I hope to start winning races again.”
Perhaps the German GP, at Teutschenthal, this weekend will signal the start of Coppins’ fight-back.
Leading MX1 world championship standings after eight of 15 rounds:
1. Antonio Cairoli (Italy, Yamaha) 291 points;
2. David Philippaerts (Italy, Yamaha) 261;
3. Max Nagl (Germany, KTM) 248;
4. Josh Coppins (New Zealand, Yamaha) 238;
5. Clement Desalle (Belgium, Honda) 237.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com