Yamaha Motocross Team's Josh Coppins is more determined than ever to see his FIM World Championship dreams come to fruition in 2008 after coming so desperately close last year. The 30 year old will shortly return from an active winter of training in his native New Zealand to embark on a busy pre-season spell of international races and tests before the first Grand Prix of fifteen in Holland on April 6th.
"At the moment I am starting to work more on my riding and getting the hours on the bike but also keep up my physical training," he said. "I leave New Zealand on the 28th of January and go straight to Italy where I will test my race bike. Then we have races at Mantova, Montevarchi , Valance and Hawkstone, all in a row. This year I will also work with Jacky Vimond (former 250cc World Champion). After this I will have three weeks off from racing and I will see what areas I need to work on; they may be speed, or the bike or fitness. I will do the first round of the Belgium championship the week before Valkenswaard and then we hit Grand Prix 1."
Coppins has been honing his physical condition since December in his town of Motueka, with some local race appearances - including domination of Supercross outings in Australia and New Zealand - thrown in for good measure. His gym and cardiovascular itineraries have seen an intense timetable of activities from cycling and riding to rock-climbing.
"To be honest every year it gets better," he said of his programme. "Every year we step-up the training and try to prepare better, but then so do my competitors! I did pretty much the same as the previous two years except I rode the motorbike a bit more and basically did more training than in the past. Last year we were struggling to do twenty hours a week, this year almost every week was well over that."
The winner of five Grand Prix in his maiden season with the YZ450FM first had to let his broken shoulder heal. The injury meant that the Yamaha Motocross Team surrendered the MX1 crown they had owned since in 2004 and halted their phenomenal run of six titles. Coppins lead fourteen of fifteen rounds in 2007 until being forced to withdraw from the final race of the year. He insists that the 'downtime' he needed to recover from the break was a positive experience for his mental state approaching 2008.
"I spent some time doing nothing at home waiting for my shoulder to heal," he revealed. "In that time I thought about the highs and the lows of 2007, the good and the bad parts of my season and most of all how I could improve for '08. I have a bit of a different approach now, mostly mentally, I think I am a stronger person now."
In terms of his work with the Italian crew of YMT, Coppins also stresses that the 2008 version of his race motorcycle means he will be even more of a potent force come April.
"The new 2008 bike is a really good and I am happy because Yamaha addressed the few little issues we have from last year," he remarked. "I tested the new bike for two weeks before I left Europe at the end of '07. There are only small changes but mostly to the chassis. They have made a big difference and it is a nicer bike to race."
"There is not too much testing to do now as I am happy with how things are," he continued. "We will try a few modifications that I have asked the team to try over the winter, but mostly it will just be getting time on the bike and getting comfortable again in Europe."