The Australian Motocross Championships reach the halfway point at Toowoomba this weekend and Kiwi Josh Coppins will be the man to watch as he seeks to reclaim the No.1 spot in the open class.
Yamaha’s Coppins (pictured above) is just nine points behind the leader, Kawasaki’s Dean Ferris, and he knows it is important he has a good set of races at the Echo Valley track in Toowoomba, Queensland, on Sunday.
Coppins did not finish the final race at the previous round and this is what cost him the series lead. The man from Motueka has since fully recovered from his fall and has been able to prepare properly for what looms as a season shaping round.
“Echo Valley is another track that I haven’t raced, but the team tells me it is the most like a European or GP track with long hills and technical ruts,” said the Kiwi hero.
“I actually like the fact of going to a new track and dialling it in quickly. I hope it gets as rough and challenging as everyone tells me it usually does, as that sorts out who has done the work and who hasn’t.
“I look forward to racing it this weekend.”
His team-mate, defending champion Jay Marmont, bounced back to some form in the final two motos at Murray Bridge and has continued the improvement on the practice track during the break in between the rounds. Totally recovered from a finger injury prior to Murray Bridge, Marmont feels this weekend just might be the one to mount his charge for his fourth championship.
“I have felt as good as ever on the bike the last couple of weeks in practice,” Marmont says confidently. “I took the positives from the final motos at Murray Bridge, worked hard on my training and bike set up and feel that I’m riding as good as I have in a long time. I just have to take that to the race track and everything will be fine.”
There are two other Kiwis in the open class mix too – Rotorua’s Michael Phillips (Honda) and Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Suzuki) – and they have plans to advance this weekend as well.
Phillips is sixth in the open class standings, 20 points behind his Honda team-mate Cheyne Boyd.
“This year has been something of a whirlwind,” Phillips said. “I was recruited at the 11th hour to fill in for (an injured) Todd (Waters) so I really have just been racing a round at a time.
“Now it has been confirmed that I will race the entire season I felt it was important to stay between rounds to continue preparing for the remainder of the championship.
“I am looking forward to this weekend I like the natural undulation of Echo Valley and feel that I well prepared for the rutted track.”
Cooper, meanwhile, is just outside the top 10, down in 13th spot overall, but he has the pace to win races and should move up on Sunday.
Cooper had been the best-placed Kiwi after the opening round but he crashed heavily and bruised his ribs at round two, causing him to drop out of a front-running position.
In the Lites (250cc) class, KTM’s Matt Moss leads the way.
Christchurch’s Justin McDonald (Honda) is down in eighth spot overall, but just eight points behind seventh-ranked Honda rider Keiron Hall.
Championship Standings – After 4 of nine rounds:
Rockstar Energy Drink Pro Open
1. Dean Ferris 299
2. Josh Coppins 290
3. Billy Mackenzie 282
4. Jay Marmont 265
5. Cheyne Boyd 255
6. Michael Phillips 235
7. Lawson Bopping 219
8. Ryan Marmont 206
9. Daniel Reardon 164
10. Louis Calvin 156
Motul Pro Lites
1. Matt Moss 329
2. Kirk Gibbs 292
3. Brenden Harrison 239
4. Daniel McCoy 231
5. Cody Mackie 216
6. Josh Cachia 215
7. Keiron Hall 212
8. Justin McDonald 204
9. Ford Dale 199
10. Phil Nicoletti 197
Pirelli Under 19s
1. Errol Willis 345
2. Luke Arbon 316
3. Dylan Peterson 272
4. Shaun Redhead 253
5. Jake Emanuelli 227
6. Kyle McKeddie 185
7. Dylan Long 159
8. Jay Wilson 143
9. Jacob Mcleod 123
10. Kale Makeham 114
© Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Photo courtesy Yamaha