New Zealand's Courtney Duncan is looking forward to round two of the Women’s Motocross World Championships in Portugal in just a few days time, keen to build on her solid start to the season at the opening round in Italy at the weekend.
The first of six rounds of the Women’s Motocross World Championships (WMX) were staged at the circuit of Pietramurata, in the Trentino region of Italy, on Saturday and Sunday, with the Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider from Otago again looking a strong contender for the world crown.
However, the flying Kiwi had to be content with a share of runner-up position for the weekend, overshadowed slightly by German rider Larissa Papenmeier. Duncan actually finished the weekend second equal on points with fellow Yamaha riders Kiara Fontanesi, from Italy, and Dutch girl Nancy Van De Ven, although Duncan was officially declared No.2 by virtue of the count-back rule after she won the final race of the weekend. Papenmeier has 45 points, thanks to her 1-3 score-card over the two races, while Duncan (6-1), Fontanesi (4-2) and Ven De Ven (2-4) each have 40 points. Duncan crashed in the first race on Saturday, although she did recover from 25th position to finish sixth on what was described as a "very one-lined track". She bounced back the following day, impressive as she won the race by more than 20 seconds over defending world champion Fontanesi. "It was a solid start to the season. Obviously yesterday’s mistake was disappointing but I’m happy to rebound today with a win and second overall is a good start to the season," said Duncan. "We have already moved our focus to (round two in) Portugal this coming weekend and we are hoping to improve again," she said. "I felt solid but still the feeling is not there yet. I haven’t had a long pre-season on the bike, but, the more I race, the more confident I feel. We can only get better."
Duncan finished third overall last year after a contentious jury decision denied her the title when the second race was stopped at the final round in France. Duncan had been leading the series during her WMX debut season in 2016, but was forced to the sideline with injury when she crashed into an errant photographer, who had been standing on the race track at the German GP. Maybe this season it will be third time lucky for the young woman from Palmerston.
Duncan and her Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha-Motor New Zealand, Yamaha-Motor Europe, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, bLU cRU, Fox Racing, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Pirelli, Twin Air, Akrapovic, DID, NGK, Renthal, Motomuck, www.workshopgraphics.co.nz, Motoseat, SKF, Veraa Metaal, Samco Sport, Vertex Pistons, X-trig, Rtech Plastics, Etnies, Mazda NZ, Liv Cycling and Monster Energy.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan