Top motocross racers Josh Coppins and Ben Townley have been invited to contest a prestigious event in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar next month. The New Zealand-born pair will take a break from their World Championship campaign to fly to the exotic nation. Their factory-supported teams (Honda and KTM, respectively), were chosen for what is effectively a shake-down event, as Qatar hopes to host a round of the MX GP series next year. The race is a one-off that will be held mid-week.
"We can go out there, do the event and be back without disrupting our weekend program in Europe," said Coppins, of the Italian Berni Honda Racing team. "It's quite an honor to be invited, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve raced in India, but never anywhere like Qatar. We don’t know quite what to expect, but I’m sure it will be a buzz."
Townley, 17 and barely more than a year out of school, describes the invitation as another big opportunity.
"I’ve had so many amazing experiences since I came to the World Championships a year ago, and now here is something totally new again,” said Townley, the 125cc rider from Big Five Vangani KTM, a team with bases in Belgium and South Africa. "Even for the veterans, offers like this don’t come along every day, and it's great that I get to go with Josh, who has been such a help to me at the World Championships."
The expat Kiwis will be joined by European-born teammates on the trip. Arrangements are still being finalized to get the riders, bikes and support crews to Qatar with minimum disruption to their current campaigns.
The standard World Championship MX Series starts at Valkensvaard in The Netherlands on March 24 and continues over 12 rounds to September. In addition to mainland Europe, the circuit takes in Bulgaria and Russia.