The long wait is over and New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan has packed her bags and returned to Europe this week to continue her Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) title defence.
She has been home in Dunedin since March, flying back after the second WMX round in The Netherlands, with a five-point lead over her closest rival. Since then the MXGP calendar has been affected by Covid-19 and Duncan (24) has been waiting on a green light for the women’s racing to resume.Her final three rounds are all scheduled to take place in Italy. The first two meetings on September 27 (MXGP Lombardia) and September 30 (MXGP of Città di Mantova), which are both held on the hard sand Mantova track, are following the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship’s new racing format of mid-week races.
Duncan will remain in Europe and train towards the final Italian round – the MXGP of Trentino on November 1 – where she is targeting her name being re-engraved on the winner’s trophy for 2020.
“I’d be lying if I said I was happy with just one world championship. I want another one and that’s what I’m aiming towards. I want to go over there and ride to the best of my ability. I’ll be putting myself in good positions to score some strong finishes and the rest will come,” Duncan says.
She flew to England yesterday, to re-join her Kawasaki Dixon Racing Team at their Portsmouth base. Her self-isolation time will be happily spent getting straight onto her new 2021 Kawasaki KX250F and turning out some test laps at the team’s track.
“Kawasaki have bought out a whole new bike. It will be cool to go over there a few weeks early and get comfortable on it,” Duncan says.
She has borne the frustration of previous WMX races, such as the recent round in Turkey, being scheduled then scrapped, with her characteristic philosophical approach.
“Everything happens for a reason. I’m excited for the new schedule.”
“To be honest, I’ve just enjoyed being home training back in New Zealand and I made the most of the local tracks.”
Duncan was even able to enter a national race meeting for the first time in three years, competing at the King of Central in Cromwell in July. Easily winning her four races against both the MX2 men and in the women’s class, the race-pace outings gave her the edge she needed to head back into battle mode.
“There’s nothing like racing itself and getting behind the gate a few times. You learn different things in racing that you don’t pick up in practise. Even though this was a local event, it still got my adrenaline pumping and gave me an appetite for what I’ve got coming up in Italy,” Duncan says.
Kawasaki New Zealand Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says: “After what has been an uncertain year, I am excited by the news that the WMX championship is resuming again after round two.
While it has been exciting to watch Courtney train and race on local soil over the break, myself and the team at Kawasaki NZ would like to wish the champ all the best for the third round. As always, we will be cheering Courtney on from the other side of the globe!”
After double wins in the season opener and 4-2 results at the second round, Duncan leads the WMX series with 90 points. Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier is in second place on 85 points, while six-time world champion Kiara Fontanesi, of Italy, is third with 80 points.
“Thanks to my supporters and sponsors for everything you do for me. I’ll do my best to bring the world number one title back home to New Zealand for you all again come November,” Duncan says.
PHOTOS: New Zealand’s Kawasaki Dixon Racing Team rider Courtney Duncan finally has the green light to return to racing in Europe where she will defend her Women’s Motocross World Championship title over three more rounds.
2020 Women’s Motocross World Championship points
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Revised Women’s Motocross World Championship calendar
September 27 – MXGP Lombardia, Mantova circuit, Italy
September 30 – MXGP of Città di Mantova, Mantova circuit, Italy
November 1 – MXGP of Trentino, Pietramurata, Italy
Photos: Kawasaki Europe, MXGP
Words: Catherine Pattison