Courtney Duncan crowned Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) champion

New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan has become the first Kiwi woman to win a FIM World MX Championship title, when she won the first race in the Women’s Motocross World Championship’s final round in Turkey overnight. She is flanked by her Bike It Dixon Racing Team owner Steve Dixon (left) and mechanic Nick Matthews (right) with the special gold helmet her sponsor Just 1 presented her with post-race. 

 

New Zealand motocross sensation Courtney Duncan has done it – crossing the finish line of the Women’s Motocross World Championship’s first race, punching both firsts in the air, index fingers pointed skyward in the international symbol for number one.

After riding immaculately throughout the MXGP of Turkey’s 20-minute, plus two laps race, she stamped her global dominance on the 10 other WMX riders, winning it by a whopping 12.818secs and earning herself an unassailable lead, with one race still to run tonight (NZ time).

An emotional Duncan entered the pit lane area on her Kawasaki KX250, where her British-based Kawasaki team Bike It Dixon Racing Team (DRT), friends and family were waiting to envelope her with hugs. She shouted out one word that summed up the three long, hard years she has been waiting for this moment.

“Yeah!”

Tears of joy quickly spilled into her helmet as she absorbed all that she has achieved.

“What a day! What a day! It’s indescribable right now. There were some big emotions after the race. So much gets built into this. This goes way back to when I started when I was 7-years of age. Everything goes into this. So much effort from my family – they did so much for me growing up to get me to this point. All my team, my sponsors everyone back over home. I have a huge team at home, and everyone plays a huge part in this championship. It was definitely a team effort. I can’t thank everyone enough,” Duncan says.

The 23-year-old Otago rider could not have scripted her maiden championship victory any more perfectly. After topping both timed practise outings, she was confident lining up in the start gates in the 30degC heat, facing the well-watered circuit for the WMX’s first time racing at the Afyonkarahisar track.

She started off steadily, taking her time to find the right lines, initially settling into fourth place. Duncan then demonstrated her racing smarts by gradually picking off her main championship rivals German Larissa Papenmeier and Dutch woman Nancy Van De Ven over the first five laps.

There was a heart-in-mouth moment as Duncan went wide, making a outside passing move on Van De Ven and wobbled in a deep rut, but she held strong and began hunting down Denmark rider Sara Andersen.

Although the pair concertinaed for the lead over half a lap, Duncan soon out-classed Andersen, shot out in front and never looked back.

“Moto one was really good. I got asked did I feel pressure going into the race and I’ve got to be completely honest with you, lining up I felt so comfortable and confident. After the sight lap, I knew the track had changed a lot. I had it in my mind that I was going to warm up into the race, so I took a few laps, found some good lines and made the passes. Then I just kind of cruised and maintained the lead. It was good enough to win the championship in the first moto. It feels amazing! Duncan says.

“I don’t know how to describe it – the journey to get here has been tough. Man, it’s been tough! After winning my first pro race on debut [in 2016] I felt like I couldn’t do nothing wrong. Since then it’s been a downward slope but this year, we changed that and we turned it around and made it happen,” she adds.

Duncan picked up the maximum 25 points to bring her total to 214, which is 31 clear of Van de Ven on 183, meaning the last race at 8.30pm tonight (NZ time) is merely a formality. The race win today was Duncan’s eighth victory out of nine races this season, where she has been imperious, except for the second race in at the first round in Valkenswaard, Netherlands, where she slipped to fourth.

Duncan credited her new team, new-found motivation and commuting back home to New Zealand between rounds for her iron-clad control of the 2019 WMX season.

 “I haven’t had to think about the races. I haven’t been waiting for them. I’ve been putting in the work and enjoying life outside of it,’’she says.

Contacting Duncan in the early hours of the morning here in New Zealand, it was late in the evening in Turkey. She was still at the track, with her team, soaking it all in.

“I’m enjoying the night, just celebrating and enjoying this championship. Everyone put so much work into it – it was a big team effort. It’s going to take a bit of time to fully settle in, what we have just achieved. I know I’m going to look back and realise that this was pretty special.”

Like many Courtney Duncan fans who couldn’t make it to Turkey, Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven was watching Duncan’s race live on MXGP-TV.

“The team at Kawasaki NZ are incredibly proud and ecstatic of Courtney’s domination of the 2019 WMX Championship. After many trials and tribulations over the years it is all the more satisfying to see her achieve her goal and to have played a small part in her success this season. Well done to Courtney and we look forward to seeing her back in Kiwi-land to celebrate her victory,” he said.

Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) general manager Virginia Henderson echoed Vehoeven’s sentiments, adding that the organisation was honoured that Duncan races under the MNZ banner.

“Courtney truly demonstrates that winning is never easy and that you have to persevere and work hard to achieve your dreams.  I’m sure MNZ joins the whole New Zealand nation in congratulating Courtney on this extremely well-deserved championship victory.”

Duncan races again tonight in the final race 10 of the WMX’s five-round championship.

HOW TO WATCH

Visit MXGP TV via link below. Subscription for weekend coverage costs approx. 11 Euro.

https://www.mxgp-tv.com/videos/1194416/mxgp-of-turkey-2019-live

Courtney Duncan’s race times in Turkey

Race 2: Sunday, September 8 11:30AM (20 mins + 2 laps) NZ time Sunday, September – 8.30PM

2019 Women’s Motocross World Championship’s calendar

Round 1: March 31st Valkenswaard, Netherlands

Round 2: May 19th Agueda, Portugal

Round 3: July 28th Loket, Czech Republic

Round 4: August 18th Imola, Italy

 Round 5: September 8th Afyonkarahisar, Turkey

 

PHOTO CREDIT: MXGP

NZ’s Courtney Duncan poised to lift debut World WMX title this weekend

New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan could become the first Kiwi woman to win a FIM World MX Championship title, when she races in the Women’s Motocross World Championship’s final round in Turkey this weekend.  

Three audio clips below

New Zealand’s motocross fraternity will be holding its breath, crossing its fingers and willing Otago-born rider Courtney Duncan on to victory this weekend, as she closes in on her debut Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) title, at the final round in Afyonkarahisar, Turkey.

It has been three long years for the star Kiwi rider, as she has worked tirelessly towards her long-cherished dream to become a world champion. If all goes her way, the 23-year-old can wrap up the title after the first race on Saturday. Sitting 23 points ahead of Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier, Duncan would claim the maximum 25 points if she won and her championship lead would become unassailable.

Riding for British-based Kawasaki team Bike It Dixon Racing Team (DRT), Duncan was in a relaxed, focused frame of mind as she left England for Turkey today.

“I’m going to enjoy it – embrace the moment – and go out there and give it everything I’ve got. Everything I’ve done leading up to this point has put me in the position I’m in today. I feel like I’ve done everything I can, to be as ready as I can be, for this weekend. I’ve got a good feeling,” she says.

While the MXGP of Turkey was a brand-new event for the other categories last year, it did not feature on the WMX calendar, meaning the track will be new to Duncan and her rivals. She plans to head into this weekend the same way as she has approached the rest of her dominant 2019 season, where she has won seven out of her eight races.

“It’s important I nail the processes that lead to this championship and that starts with qualifying on Saturday morning and then obviously going through to moto 1. I need to nail a good start and put myself in a good position.”

Duncan says it has been a “tough, long road” since she burst onto the WMX scene in 2016, going 1-1 in her Qatar debut.

“Since then there’s been a lot of set-backs. A lot of injuries. A lot of doubts and that was weighing on my mind the last few years, so to be able to get this monkey off my back and to be able to finally tick it over would mean everything to me. Going through what I’ve gone through, it will be even sweeter.”

“Winning the WMX title would honestly mean the world to me. I’ve had this goal since I was such a young kid. All the way to the point where I was telling my school teachers – telling my parents at the dinner table – that I’m going to be world champion one day,” Duncan adds.

The last time a New Zealand woman held a world motocross title was when Katherine Oberlin-Brown (nee Prumm) won the Women’s World Cup in 2006 and 2007. The class was elevated to FIM World Motocross Championship status in 2008.

Motorcycling New Zealand general manager Virginia Henderson says the organisation is “thrilled to have another one of our women members competing at this level on the world stage. It is certainly an inspiration to future champions and promotes the growth of women in our sport.  Courtney has all the Motorcycling New Zealand members and fans backing her to bring home the Women’s World Championship trophy this weekend.”

Immediately after celebrating her third consecutive set of double-race wins at Imola,
Italy, last month – successfully racing the new 2020 KX250 to victory in the last two rounds – Duncan extended her contract with Kawasaki Motors Europe and the Bike It DRT squad into the 2020 season.

“I’m very thankful and excited to announce that I have extended my contract with Kawasaki and DRT through 2020. I really feel at home with the team and feel the KX250 suits me perfectly. This is just the start and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can continue to achieve together in the future,” Duncan says.

Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says the company has been proud to support Duncan’s campaign.

“Having Courtney show so much success this year has been truly inspirational for all Kiwis and for the team at Kawasaki. We look forward to her lining up this weekend to give it her all and wish her all the best!”

HOW TO WATCH

Visit MXGP TV via link below. Subscription for weekend coverage costs approx. 10.96 Euro.

https://www.mxgp-tv.com/videos/1194416/mxgp-of-turkey-2019-live

Courtney Duncan’s race times in Turkey

Race 1: Saturday, September 7 16:05PM (20 mins + 2 laps) NZ time Sunday, September 8 – 1AM

Race 2: Sunday, September 8 11:30AM (20 mins + 2 laps) NZ time Sunday, September – 8.30PM

 

2019 Women’s Motocross World Championship’s calendar

Round 1: March 31st Valkenswaard, Netherlands

Round 2: May 19th Agueda, Portugal

Round 3: July 28th Loket, Czech Republic

Round 4: August 18th Imola, Italy

 Round 5: September 8th Afyonkarahisar, Turkey

 

PHOTO CREDIT: MXGP

Kawasaki Track Day

Kawasaki is proud to present the Kawasaki Track Day in association with Passmasters Rider Training at Hampton Downs on the 17th January 2020.

Come and join Kawasaki on the national circuit for an unforgettable track day with the knowledgeable team from Passmasters.
The day is incredible value at only $170 or $100 for Kawasaki riders.

There are 4 classes.
– LAMS Approved Motorcycles – Informal Guidance provided
– Group C – Novice
– Group B – Intermediate
– Group A – Advanced

Get in quick as spaces are limited. Visit https://www.passmasters.nz/trackday to register.

Kawasaki Riders at Sand Prix 2019

3 in a row for Courtney Duncan