Despite their success, the pair are two of the most down to earth, approachable blokes you could ever wish to meet. Josh and Ben are also keen to share their knowledge and experience to help the next generation of Kiwi racers to succeed.
Following their retirement from international competition, both headed home to New Zealand with a plan to give back to the sport through customer experiences, high performance coaching, and even race team ownership.
While their plans were similar in design, the two initially embarked on differing retirement journeys. Ben’s market was unforgettable guided adventures through his business 101 Adventures, as well as high-performance coaching – a perfect combination of his passions past and present. Josh, on the other hand, decided race team ownership was the best way for him to remain involved with the sport. Josh Coppins Racing (JCR) was established in partnership with Yamaha Motor New Zealand in 2013.
While Josh and Ben’s paths crossed countless times throughout their racing careers, and their journeys continued to be intertwined in retirement, it was Ben’s son Levi who was the catalyst for a partnership that is a match made in heaven for the next generation of two-wheeled Kiwi superstars.
Since its inception, JCR has grown into a slick professional structure for on and off-road racing. The goal of JCR is Yamaha customers for life as well as providing opportunities for Yamaha owners to maximise their ownership experience. With Ben joining the crew, they also want to develop New Zealand’s next big talents before unleashing them onto the world stage.
Momentum meets both of the big names behind Josh Coppins Racing and discovers two guys with egos in direct contrast to their success and abilities, as well as an infectious passion for all things two wheels and the Yamaha brand.
Ben’s racing career spans decades, and everything he has achieved in the sport of motocross can be linked back to the first time he threw a leg over a Yamaha PeeWee 50.
“I’ve been riding dirt bikes Since I was six years old,” Ben explains. “It’s just been an amazing journey I guess starting on a PW50 and then carrying on from there until this day, and I still love riding dirt bikes.”
As a young up-and-coming Kiwi racer, it wasn’t long before Ben was demolishing all the local competition, taking home countless championship victories. 2001 saw him launch his international campaign, and by 2004 he was MX2 World Champion.
Ben put New Zealand well and truly on the map at the 2005 Motocross des Nations, only bested by Ricky Carmichael, debatably the world's fastest man on dirt. Townley also took it to the best in the AMA supercross series, a constant front-runner until retirement came calling in 2017.
Townley returned home and settled in Tauranga, NZ, following his departure from racing. His company, 101 Adventures, works closely with Yamaha to bring a safe and fun environment for customers to head out on an adventure machine and explore the picturesque unique scenery only New Zealand’s North Island can offer.
While Townley and Coppins had crossed paths numerous times throughout their careers, the partnership between the pair was sparked by Ben’s son Levi.
“The whole relationship with JCR started, through my oldest boy Levi,” Explained Ben. “One of the catalysts for Levi getting started in racing was the YZ65 Cup. We purchased one of Yamaha’s great little entry-level machines just a few weeks prior to the inaugural YZ65 Cup was held in NZ. That event has now become a huge event on the NZ racing calendar. It’s where kids begin their aspirations to be a part of that bLU cRU family.”
Levi’s DNA meant he was always going to be a natural talent on a motocross bike, and it wasn’t long before not only Levi was signed to Josh Coppins Racing as a rider, but Ben was also signed as a coach.
“It has been really nice working with Josh, he really understands the fact that when you come out of racing and go into business, there’s a real point where your mindset crosses over so he really gets that. I truly believe that Yamaha Motor NZ is in such a good place because of him.”
Josh CoppinsWhen Josh Coppins headed to Europe in the early 2000s to take on the world’s best motocross riders, most of his competition wouldn’t have had a clue what a Kiwi was, never mind the location of a country called New Zealand.
By the time he retired at the end of 2012, everyone was looking to New Zealand to see when the next big thing was coming out of a country with such a small population.
After finishing runner-up in the 2005 MX-1 GP championship, he looked on track to be crowned the best in the world in 2007 - building a massive 100 point lead with only a few rounds to run. Unfortunately a broken shoulder sidelined Coppins for three rounds, and the title slipped through his fingers. More success followed, but by the time he retired in 2012, the MX-1 GP title had eluded him.
After dedicating his life to the sport, Coppins wasn’t going to let his racing retirement get in the way of continuing his legacy. He started Josh Coppins Racing (JCR), a racing team that wasn’t just about opening a pathway to Europe for New Zealand’s best riders, but also providing coaching and assistance to the next generation of riders so they can reach their full potential.
“When I retired from racing for Yamaha Motor ANZ at the end of 2012, I already, in my mind, had a plan for the future of what I wanted to do after racing,” explained Coppins. “Then in 2013 we started Josh Coppins Racing. It was reasonably successful, and Yamaha liked the way we were headed and the pathways that we were creating, so it went into a wider role. We took over road racing, cross-country, enduro and the junior program.”
“The original philosophy around this (Josh Coppins Racing) will always be customer for life. The objective was to be able to make sure riders had all the support they needed in order to enjoy the product. It does not matter if they want to be a world champion or a club rider, we just want to make sure they have what they need to have a good experience.”
“At the end of the day Ben and I are passionate about creating champions for the future, so I guess my part of it with the Yamaha Motor Company is to try to provide the customer what they require in order to achieve those goals. Ben is in the background working with the customer to try and produce the skills they need.”