As part of a shared philosophy between the brand and Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) to help Kiwi riders progress, Yamaha hosted hundreds of youngsters in a free activation zone at Mount Smart Stadium, on Saturday. A learner track was laid out and top Yamaha motocross riders, including Rhys Carter, Kayne Lamont and Tommy Watts, taught them the fundamentals of how to ride a motorbike.
Former international motocross star Josh Coppins, who is now Yamaha's Motorsport Manager, says that encouraging young riders, from an early age, to believe they can make it onto the world stage is important.
"We have identified that there is a ton of talented riders in New Zealand and Yamaha and MNZ are determined to help foster that talent and help create pathways for Kiwis to become that whole package that they need to be, if they want to make it as a sponsored international rider."
Coppins' own Altherm JCR Yamaha motocross team had its race truck at the Auckland stadium and ran the YZ65 Cup out of it. The riders had to be aged between 8-11 years and riding a YZ65. They entered a first in first served competition run on social media to attend.
"We had 16 entries and these kids got to have an experience of a lifetime, where basically they were a factory rider for the day. They were able to meet all the overseas supercross stars and got autographs from all the international Yamaha riders," Coppins says.
The entrants all walked the awe-inspiring supercross track, before their practice laps and race on Saturday afternoon. Auckland's Jack Ellingham was the YZ65 winner and received his prize before all the riders got changed out of their racewear and went in to watch the spectacular supercross action that night.
"It was such a cool experience for these kids – they were really thankful and so were their parents. Yamaha's activations through the kids' zone, YZ65 Cup and the huge tent we had set up showcasing our product range, definitely gave our customers a chance to dream big over the weekend," Coppins says.
Out on the track, punctuated by massive jumps and whoops, Yamaha's international riders performed extremely well, with many of them on the podium, across the classes. Australian Luke Clout from Monster Energy CDR Yamaha took the SX1 Championship round win, after his 4-1-4 results moved him into the series lead by a single point, with one round remaining.
While Saturday's event was the fourth of the five-round Australian Supercross Championship, it was also the first of two rounds in the S-X Open FIM Oceania Supercross Championship and the second round of the New Zealand Supercross Championships. While Coppins won the SX2 (250cc) class at the first national supercross round in Winton two weeks ago, his Yamaha commitments meant he was unable to race on Saturday and will not make it to the final round in Tokoroa this Saturday.
"Yamaha riders have a chance to win three of the five supercross titles this weekend and I'm thankful to the brand for their support in helping to elevate the supercross series' profile. I'm grateful to Ben Townley for heading to Tokoroa this weekend, as he is leading the SX1 class and flying the Yamaha flag in this category."
"Unfortunately, I can't make the final supercross round due to Yamaha road racing commitments. It's a balancing act for me now between racing and managing our race divisions. The future isn't me – the future is the young people we are working with and its important I keep that in mind as we keep developing them," Coppins concludes.