Josh Rides @ BOP:

Posted: Tue 23 Dec 2003

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Motocross ace Josh Coppins begins the buildup to his 2004 world title bid when he contests this weekend\'s New Zealand Christmas event near Whakatane.

The Honda star will race a CRF450 four-stroke similar to the factory bike he will use in the Europe-based world championship which begins in March.

He will also ride a CRF250 four-stroke this weekend.
\"I\'ve had quite a bit of practice on the 450 as I\'ve been building up my fitness over the past month,\" commented 26-year-old Coppins. \"But I\'ve had only one day on the 250 so it won\'t be a very serious outing on that. \"It\'s a great wee bike though and a lot of fun to ride . it\'s a new model for Honda and I can see it being a big success.\"

The Christmas event on the Awakaponga circuit in the Bay of Plenty is part of the NZ Dirt Bike Federation championship, although Coppins says he is not chasing titles just yet.

Tipped as champion-in-waiting in the world\'s premier class MX1, the man from Motueka is following a strict programme of preparation.

\"This race comes at an ideal time for both fitness and time on the bike,\" Coppins commented. \"I\'m starting to come up to speed now, but there\'s still a fair way to grand prix readiness. \"I\'ll do one more race in New Zealand then get to Italy to start on my factory bike during January.\"

New Zealand\'s top motorcycle racer, 26-year-old Coppins was sidelined by serious injury this year, after bagging runner-up spot in the world\'s glamour class in 2002.

Ian RJ Miles