Battling through deep mud and ruts at the season-opening MXGP Great Britain at the popular British circuit of Matterley Basin, 24-year-old Otago motocross queen Duncan bagged the maximum 50 points on offer over the two races on her 2020 Kawasaki KX250. Riding for the England-based Kawasaki Dixon Race Team, she was the first to admit she took some time to warm into her winning ways.
“I’m happy to go 1- 1 here at the opener. I felt a little bit rusty. A little bit off the pace but that’s a given, since I haven’t raced in six months. I’m very happy to walk away with the full 50 points and I think we can be proud of that especially given the conditions – they weren’t easy. They were pretty difficult out there with a lot of mud,” she says.
In the first WMX race, Duncan got a good start, but her time in the lead was cut short as Dutchwoman Nancy Van De Ven, applied the pressure and jumped into the lead in the opening lap of the race. Meanwhile the returning six-time WMX champion Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi was not far behind in third. In the later stages, Sara Andersen, of Denmark was chasing Duncan and Van De Ven before crashing on the finish jump and with 8 minutes to go, Van De Ven found herself in trouble which allowed Duncan to gain back the lead. The New Zealand rider went on to comfortably win the race by 11.56 seconds over Fontanesi, with Lynn Valk, of the Netherlands in third.
In the second race, Duncan got into the same groove that saw her win nine out the ten WMX races last season and she stormed through to the chequered flag, claiming victory by just over 5 seconds from Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier.
Kawasaki New Zealand Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says: “We’re incredibly proud and excited to see Courtney continue this season with the same blistering form that saw her take home last year’s championship. While the track conditions were testing on the iconic Matterley Basin track, Courtney rose to the challenge on her 2020 KX250 to assert her dominance on the field.”
Duncan heads to the Valkenswaard track in the Netherlands this coming weekend for round two of six in this season’s WMX, with the championship leader’s red plate and the confidence that she’s got plenty more left in the tank.
“I’m stoked to get the first round win, I couldn’t ask for more. I can only go up from here. My goal is to just continue to improve and I think I can do that. The more bike time I get on the race bike with testing, I can up the pace. I look at improving each day and each race as it comes,” she says.
PHOTO: New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan begins her title defence in the 2020 Women’s World Motocross Championship in the best possible way, with a 1-1 result.
Hear Courtney’s thoughts below:
WMX Championship standings after round one
|4||85||Van De Ven, N.||NED||YAM||36|
2020 Women’s Motocross World Championship’s calendar
01 March MXGP of Great Britain – Matterley Basin
08 March MXGP of The Netherlands Valkenswaard
19 April MXGP of Spain intu Xanadú – Arroyomolinos
17 May MXGP of Italy Maggiora
06 September MXGP of Turkey Afyonkarahisar
20 September MXGP of Emilia Romagna (Italy) Imola.
Words: Catherine Pattison