Motocross

Burning ambition!

Burning ambition!

I’ve interviewed Josh Coppins on one other occasion – a couple of years ago when he was coming back from horrendous injuries to his feet, ankles and back after a crash at a US supercross during early season preparation for the ’03 GPs.
I I’ve interviewed Josh Coppins on one other occasion – a couple of years ago when he was coming back from horrendous injuries to his feet, ankles and back after a crash at a US supercross during early season preparation for the ’03 GPs.
I recall Josh not really enjoying talking about the injuries as he saw them as a negative – and being a New Zealander that kind of mentality is just not acceptable. Pain is part of the game and in my experience of the most recent crop of riders from the land of the Kiwi, they are a tough breed who stay positive – even when the ***t hits the fan.
Since the last interview I’ve gotten to know Mr Coppins a little better and his relaxed, quiet and easy manner hides a total commitment and intense, burning desire to succeed as soon as he slips on his helmet. The guy seems to be like a switch and is always ready to turn on and battle as hard as required to push himself to the max on the racetrack.
When you stand back and watch JC at pretty much any race, anywhere in the world, you know you are going to see a human being laying everything he’s got on the line for every second of every moto…
This is what the sport is all about in my eyes – grit and determination is the key (when you’re not born with a supernatural gift to ride around on the footpegs, making the sport look boring to the untrained eye)… If you want all-action, lay-it-out style motocross racing, look no further than the Lizzard!

Lizzard likes

Food: "Italian."
Drink: "Coke."
CD: "Creed."
Concert: "Pink in Dortmund – but I would love to go to Bon Jovi…"
Car: "Aston Martin DB9."
Time of year: "Summer in NZ (that’s when it’s winter in the UK]."
Film: "Snatch."
Holiday destination: Queenstown, NZ."
Racetrack: "Anything Johnny Douglas Hamilton builds."
Racebike: "My ’02 CR250 two-stroke. That thing rocked…"
Night out: "Any end of year party…work’s done!"
Desert island essential: "Jet-ski."
What about fuel Skippy? "P*** off!"
Clothes: "T-shirt, jeans and my Vans."
Colour: "Black."
Thing in the UK: "Isle of Wight."
Hobby: "Wakeboarding."
Tipple: "Guinness."
Trophy: "Teuchental 2000 – a crystal globe, very nice."
Memory: "AMA National, Unadilla ’02."
Actor: "Vinnie Jones."
Actress: "Angelina Jolie."
Buddy: "NZ Geek (Matt) and Shannon – I can’t say just one."
Time of the day: "Evening."
Training tool: "My road bicycle."
Mag (not MX): "Cross stitch monthly!"
Present: "JR 50 1981 – my fourth birthday. I’ve still got it."
Room in the house: "The garage…where the toys live."
Rider: "Ricky Johnson."
Airport: "Nelson NZ…50p for unlimited parking!"
Worst person to have at the race track: "My Mum!"
Most influential person – MX and non-MX: "Corrado Maddi and Lance Armstrong."
Person you would most like to have a phone call from: "Cliff White (Honda boss in the USA]!"

early days!
Young, dumb and full of…

"It was my first GP in ’95 and I came over with a sponsor who had a Suzuki dealership in New Zealand. We were walking the track on the Friday in Talavera and on the straight closest to the pits they had a huge single jump and two tabletops.
"I said to the guy – his name was Marion – who was with me ‘that’s a pretty big jump’ and he said ‘you’re racing with the world’s best now – they’re gonna hit that tapped’ and I said ‘but I’m going to go so high’ and he says ‘but these are the world’s ******g best riders, it’s on, step it up – you’re going to have to hit that bad boy nailed’.
"So I didn’t actually watch anyone, I just went straight out there, hit it tapped and – BOOM! – blew out the rear wheel. So I went into the pits and got a new rear wheel and I was like ‘aww, it’s pretty big’ and he’s like ‘nah, nah, they’re all doing it, they’re all doing it’.
"So next lap brrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaap – BOOM! – blew out the front wheel. Got back to the pits and that was that, practice over. I said ‘you sure they’re hitting that tapped?’ and he’s like ‘yeah, yeah, no worries – you just need to get some better wheels’.
"So he hit Sylvain up for some new wheels because we were getting all the year-old stuff and then the next time I went out he says to me ‘you’re going to actually have to hit it a bit faster – you’re hitting it a little bit slow and you’re sort of going straight up, if you hit it faster you’ll go even further and you’ll land a bit softer’.
"I was coming up to it a bit hesitant before but the last time I hit it absolutely pinned and – BUMPH! – I hit my head! I looked up and I’d hit the wires for the speaker system! Just about clotheslined myself! I went and spoke to Sylvain and he spoke to the track and they got it lowered.
"A few days later I was speaking to Dave Nicoll and he said it was absolutely ridiculous, I was the only one doing it. I just kept hitting it nailed – I was only 17 and a bit naive. Just about ended my career there and then."

Words by Geoff Walker Photos by rayarcher.com