New Zealander Courtney Duncan will defend her lead in the FIM WMX Women’s World Motocross Championship for Bike It DRT Kawasaki this weekend in the penultimate round of the series at Imola in Italy.
AUGUST 16, 2019:
Courtney, victorious in each of the last two rounds of the series in Portugal and Czech Republic, has prepared the final rounds of the series in the UK after staying in Europe the last couple of weeks. “There was a big gap between the first few rounds so I went back home after each one but now I will stay in the UK with the team until the end of the series,” she explained after she celebrated the ninth GP victory of her career with the Bike It DRT team a couple of weeks ago at Loket. Leading the series by fourteen points, the twenty-three-year-old will race the Imola track for the first time as she missed the final round of the championship last year. “It’s been a good year so far and I feel confident, but anything can happen so we’ll take it race-by-race and we’ll see what I can do,” she added before heading to Italy.
Joining the series four years ago Courtney was immediately competitive as she already won three GPs and led the championship in her rookie season and since 2016 she has been one of the fastest girls of the series every year, winning races and holding the red plate regularly. But she had never been able to complete the previous seasons without injury, a fact which cost her the chance to clinch the title. “For sure I had some tough seasons. I’ve always had the speed to win but I didn’t have the complete package to win a world championship. I feel much wiser this year; I feel different and it’s been nice to change team. I had spent all my career with another brand but I think the Kawasaki suits me perfectly. It’s the first time in my career that I race Green and it was a big move when I made this decision to join Steve Dixon’s team. I’m really enjoying my time; the entire team wants to win and that suits me perfectly. When I’m behind the gate and put on my helmet I only want to win,” she admitted.
Having won nineteen GP motos during her world championship career she has a host of racing experience and has never been so close to attaining her dream. “I got my first bike when I was seven; I grow up outside of the city, rode with friends after school and then raced at weekends. I was a really competitive kid in all sports; I did many sports but when I was fourteen or fifteen I decided to take motocross more seriously. I grow up racing with the boys; there was also a class for the girls in New Zealand but I raced both, the challenge was always greater,” explained Courtney who had a first taste of GPs watching her compatriots on television. “I watched MXGP as we had Ben Townley and Josh Coppins doing well, as well as Catherine Prumm – twice winner of the Women’s World Cup in 2006 and 2007 on Kawasaki – and I saw it was possible to race for a world title. It’s not easy coming from so far away; the challenge is great and it’s tougher for us and to make it is a long way. The biggest challenge is that you’re far away from family and friends, but when we come over from Australia or New Zealand we have a strong motivation as we really want to succeed,” she concluded as she prepares to defend her championship lead in the last two rounds of the series.
Words and photos: Kawasaki EU