For all her southern fans who can usually only watch Courtney Duncan on the MXGP livestream, Cromwell’s King of Central motocross event was a chance to witness her at her scintillating best yesterday.
They were treated to fight-from-the-back masterclass by the two-time Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) winner, in the second MX2 race.
There were definite comparisons to be drawn with her penultimate 2020 race in Italy, where she went down right off the start line, before riding the race of her life. Duncan carved through the WMX field to win and secured enough points to help nail her second consecutive world crown.
Heading out as the sole female in the pack of 25 male MX2 riders yesterday, she made it through the first corner before “a rider went down in front of me and I had nowhere to go,” Dunedin-based Duncan says.
Her Kawasaki KX250 ploughed into the muddy Central Otago Motorcycle Club track and picking it back up, she displayed that never give up attitude, for which she has become renowned. Picking her way past the other competitors from dead last, Duncan thrilled all those watching from the track’s embankment.
Setting the race’s fastest lap, just under 4secs quicker than any of her rivals, she had the race leader Dunedin’s Ezra Holmes firmly in her sights. They sailed over the final jump virtually neck and neck, with Holmes just edging ahead over the finish line to win by 1.03secs.
Having won the first MX2 race by just over 5secs, Duncan saved her best for last and tore around the rutted, sandy, technical circuit like a whirlwind, taking the chequered flag 38.1secs ahead of Invercargill rider Jack Symon.
She wrapped up the MX2 class, 13 points ahead of Symon and clean-swept the three Ladies races.
While Duncan goes up against the quickest girls in the world in Europe, there was nothing like trading lap times with the Kiwi boys to help her improve.
“I had a good battle going on in the first MX2 race which was cool. Jack definitely kept me on my toes. He put me under pressure and that’s what I need to get better.”
“The men are generally more competitive. A lot more aggressive. They don’t want to get beaten by a girl – that’s the last thing they want. They don’t make it easy on me and it forces me to ride harder,” she says.
After competing in several North Island events, including the inaugural KawiGirls Kings and Queens Motocross event in December, the King of Central was Duncan’s first South Island hit out since competing at the Central Otago Motorcycle Club’s event last year.
After a minor injury break in January, she has been back training on her Kawasaki for a couple of months but there was “nothing like gate time,” she says.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been behind the gate, so it’s good to get the feet wet again.”
The first WMX round of five, is scheduled for July 25 on the Czech Republic’s Loket circuit and Duncan plans to head back to England to rejoin her Kawasaki Dixon Racing team at the end of June. The season has been condensed from its usual March to September timeframe, to wrapping up in three months, with the final round on October 31 in Italy.
As always, Duncan’s goal is to recapture the world championship – making it three from three.
“That’s what we are working towards. At the same time it’s not too much on my mind. I want to nail my prep and make sure I’m in the best shape I can be leaving in June. I’m making sure I’m doing the work and ticking all the boxes. Giving it my all each day.”
Duncan has made bike time the priority and goes riding four days a week – changing up the tracks. On top of that she hits the gym and does her cardio and recovery sessions to ensure she’s got the speed, as she builds a strong fitness base.
“Just doing whatever I can to be ready.”