At only 24-years-old Duncan has a wise head on young shoulders and was philosophical about how the two races panned out.
“It was a difficult weekend for me. From winning a lot lately you realise that losing isn’t fun. I got beaten straight up this weekend and it hurt. Nothing like a little motivation moving forward though,” she says.
A fourth in the first race at the MXGP of the Netherlands was not the way the defending champion wanted to start her weekend.
“The first moto was not good – I got fourth. They really checked out on me as well. I didn’t have a great feeling but I didn’t do anything stupid. When I wasn’t feeling good, I just took a fourth,” Duncan comments on not trying to force a podium result on her 2020 Kawasaki KX250.
With six-time WMX Championship winner Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi first to the chequered flag, followed by Duncan’s other main rivals Dutchwoman Nancy Van De Ven in second and Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier rounding out the podium, the Kiwi had some ground to make up the following day.
“Obviously it fired me up. I had a better day and got second. For me, to be able to turn a really bad day around yesterday, to a somewhat good day today, is a real positive.”
Papenmeier won the second moto and Van De Ven was a close third. The results after the Netherlands round see Kawasaki Dixon Race Team rider Duncan still ahead by 5 points on 90, with Papenmeier on 85 and Fontenesi a further 5 back on 80.
Duncan now flies home to New Zealand to continue her training in between WMX races, with the MXGP of Spain held on April 18 and 19 and she’s not going to beat herself up about the fourth overall finish for the second round.
“You can’t always win. It was just one of those days and one of those weekends where I got beaten by better competition on the day. I don’t need to worry too much about it, as we knew these conditions were going to be tough for me. The wet heavy sand has never been one of my strong points. I definitely need to work on that area.”
One of the main disadvantages of being a New Zealander and being based at home in the off-season was not having the European tracks to practise on over winter. Many of Duncan’s rivals spend those months honing their skills in the sand, while she has to make the best of it come race weekend.
However, Duncan was quick to find the silver lining moving forward.
“We are in a good position and we have a big break now, so I can get some solid time in. There’s plenty of positives to take away from the weekend. If you look at last year, I left Valkensward 5 points down and this year I still have a 5-point lead in the championship. We made the best out of a bad weekend.”
Kawasaki New Zealand Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says: “We’re extremely proud to see Courtney ride smart and calculated motos in Valkenswaard. The track was extremely difficult and featured tough conditions we would not often see in New Zealand so to come away with the lead heading into the MXGP of Spain next month is testament to Courtney’s maturity and racecraft.”
Hear Courtney’s thoughts below:
WMX Championship standings after round one
|4||85||Van De Ven, N.||NED||YAM||78|
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.
Photos: Kawasaki Europe
Words: Catherine Pattison