Josh Coppins still a winner

It was never going to be a comeback - Josh Coppins made that quite clear before the event - but the Yamaha ace certainly proved he had not forgotten how to win since he retired from fulltime motocross racing at the end of last season.

The current Australian MX1 champion took one of the JCR Yamaha Racing Team YZ450F bikes and demolished the MX1 class at the big 30th anniversary Michael Godfrey Memorial Motocross meeting in Waipara, north of Christchurch, at the weekend.

He said it was just to keep the seat warm while the team's regular MX1 class rider, Scotsman Billy MacKenzie, was otherwise occupied with racing in Australia, but Coppins enjoyed the brief "comeback" ride nonetheless.

Coppins won four of the five MX1 races, opting to ease up a little for the fifth and settling for fourth place in that outing as he strived to conserve energy ahead of the weekend's feature race.

That gesture proved to be in vain, however. Coppins was the victim of a shunt from behind at the start of the race, the accident damaging his bike and forcing him to withdraw.

"The weekend was not too bad for me considering I hadn't done much preparation," said the 36-year-old former world No 2.

"Speed was not an issue for me, just fitness. I felt I could pass the other riders with ease. It's a pity I was taken down in the feature race, but that's racing sometimes.

"I really enjoyed myself, although it wasn't really about me. I only stepped in to make sure we had a presence with both Scotty [Columb] and Billy [MacKenzie] unavailable. My main job is to focus on managing the team, not racing any more these days."

It was also an outstanding weekend for fellow Yamaha rider Ethan Martens, the Waitakere racer riding a YZ450F to fifth overall in the MX1 class and also piloting a Yamaha YZ250 to win the MX2 class outright.

The 21-year-old Martens also finished third in the feature final race, behind MX1 regulars Justin McDonald, of Christchurch, and Michael Phillips, of Rotorua.

"The feature race was the first time I really put the hammer down on the 450cc bike," said Martens.

"I was riding two classes all weekend, so I was using a lot of energy, but I decided to cut loose a bit for the last race and I seemed to go pretty good."

The JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, Josh Coppins Racing, Yamaha Motor Finance, Star Moving, Holland's Collision Centre, Fox, Alpinestars, Atlas, POD, Racetech Plastics, Renthal, DID, NGK, Pirelli, Motomuck, ilabb, Factory Effex, Boyesen, Pro Circuit and Matrix.

The Nelson Mail