Townsville certainly seems to breed some brilliant throttle jockeys, and Damien Koppe holds a deserving place among them. Koppe is one of the most skillful and versatile riders around - a fact proven earlier this year when he became the first Aussie to win the coveted Burt Munro Challenge Beach Races at Invercargill. Despite his successes as a dirt tracker, speedway rider, beach racer and motocrosser, "Damo" doesn't have the profile he probably deserves.
So let's get to know him a little bit...
Name: Damien Koppe
Discplines: Dirt Track, Speedway, Motocross
Bike: KTM 450cc, GM 500cc & Husaberg FE650.
Sponsors: Future Sport Motorcycles
I ride a motorcycle because: It's fun. That simple!
The reason I compete aboard one is: I have always competed since I was five so I don't really know anything different and I have always enjoyed it. I also take every opportunity to just ride with mates (in the bush, on the beach, mx track whatever and wherever)
My main bike is a: KTM 450cc that's set up for Dirt Track racing. In Dirt Track we run an 18" rear wheel, with a trials tyre fitted. I love the electric start and the new traction control system.
My primary discipline of motorcycle sport is: Dirt Track and Speedway. Dirt Track is something I have done for a long time. I enjoy the travelling, socialising and the banter with my mates in the pits just as much as the racing. With Dirt Track and Speedway we have a lot of bike set up that goes into it. I enjoy the challenge of getting the bike right for every different track (gearing, timing, jetting, suspension etc).
The biggest high I ever got from competition was: Competing in the Burt Munro Challenge just recently and also 2013 was a great year riding as a Professional Speedway Rider for Sheffield Tigers in England.
My favourite track/place to compete is: Sheffield Speedway or Grass Tree Beach at Mackay. At Sheffield the professionalism is unreal. Its full of mad keen spectators in the stands, and upstairs is a typical English bar and restaurant looking over the track! At Grass Tree there is just something about riding on the beach that does it for me. It’s an event that attracts every sort of motorcycle rider and spectator. Everyone needs to go and/or compete there at least once. I guarantee you will get sucked in to going again!
The person who taught me the most about my sport is: my Dad, Steve Koppe. He got me and my brother Jarrod our first bikes (a Suzuki LT50 quad bike and a DS80) at the age of 4 and 7. From there we never really stopped riding. My dad has always supported me and made sure we have fun with it. From the age of about 12 or so I was doing my own top end rebuilds on my RM80, and if the bike wasn't washed on Monday after school, we missed the next race meeting! I think that never being pushed to compete or especially not pushed to win helped a lot with wanting to go back every weekend. The track was a different place back then- Dad taught me that if I wanted to race I had to do things for myself. I remember leaning my bike on the tyre wall and then taking a tyre off the wall to put on the ground at the start gate so that I could reach the ground! No pressure just fun! 25 years later and me and my Dad are still heading to meetings. He was a successful Speedway Rider in Australia and the UK. He now owns and runs Future Sport Motorcycles in Townsville.
The people whose backing makes all the difference are: My partner Nicky- always supporting my crazy ideas and next big venture. My family- again they are always keen for anything I dream up.
Outside of my motorcycle life I: have just recently opened a Mechanical workshop called Koppe's Mechanical in Townsville, Qld.
You might be surprised to know that I: Listen to Johnny Cash on the way to race meetings.
This year my goals are: To keep having fun. When the fun stops that's when something is going wrong! I can't see that ever happening for me. Another goal is to keep giving back to the sport, I like to help out with my local club and also love to hand down my knowledge of the sport to anyone that will listen. Taking out the win at The Burt Munro Challenge in New Zealand which I did in February and the next goal is to aim for the win for the third year in a row at the Grass Tree Beach Races in Mackay.
The thing I'll be focusing on most is: juggling racing and a new business for 2018.