11 April 2023
On the fight-back after the season opener on Sardinian sand, New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan took overall victory at the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship’s second round in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, over Easter.
The MXGP of Switzerland’s last edition was held in 2018 – the year before Duncan achieved her first of her three consecutive WMX Championship wins – and the track has been completely renewed since then.
The Big Van World MTX Kawasaki rider Duncan has learned over that time how to get going, when the going gets tough and the first moto’s heavy track following a downpour on Saturday was her time to shine.
Duncan was positioned fourth after the first lap with Italian Kiara Fontanesi quickly taking the lead after the first turns. Spain’s Daniela Guillen was all over her rear wheel making a move early to take the lead off Fontanesi. The two riders were followed by Australian Charli Cannon and Duncan.
Looking quick on her bike, the Kiwi then passed Cannon for third on lap 2, and soon after caught the front two riders Guillen and Fontanesi.
The leading trio created a gap on the rest of the pack as a three-way battle went on between lap 2 and 5. Fontanesi eventually took the lead as she passed Guillen on lap 4, while Duncan, who was in third position at the time, tirelessly piled pressure on the Spaniard. Guillen could not contain Duncan’s speed on lap 5 and dropped down to third.
Dunedin’s Duncan, who lives in England over the WMX championship season, then focused her sights on Fontanesi and passed the six-time world champion on lap 7, keeping the lead until the end. Fontanesi finished second and Guillen settled for third.
Duncan was happy with the first race.
“On Saturday afternoon, the track was super technical and had heaps of lines. Although I didn’t get the best start, I made my way through the pack and into the lead and was able to pull about a 20-second gap by the end of the race,” she says.
On Easter Monday morning, the second race started with Dutchwoman Lotte Van Drunen taking the lead in front of her compatriot Nancy Van de Ven and Duncan. Van de Ven couldn’t contain Duncan’s onslaught and succumbed on lap 3. The front-running trio finished in that same order.
“They flatten the track for moto two and we were up first, so it was hard to make a difference. That being said, I need to work hard on that as well, because we will most likely have many of those this season,” Duncan says.
Duncan’s 1-2 results put her on top of the overall round podium above Van Drunen in second place and Guillen in third.
“I’ve now moved into second – one point off the championship lead – and I made up 9 points this weekend, which was awesome. The next race is Spain in three weeks’ time, so it’s back to the UK, back to work and hopefully we can come out swinging in Spain,” Duncan wraps up.
Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says: “It’s special to hear the national anthem once again after a solid performance from Courtney in Switzerland. I’m sure this will give her the boost of confidence she needs heading to one of her favourite tracks in Spain next month.”
“While championship leader Lotte shone in her favoured sand conditions in Sardinia, Courtney will be sure to stamp her authority at the hard pack Intu Xanadú track. The racing has been electrifying this season already and we’ll be backing Duncan all the way,” Verhoeven says.
WMX – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 24:10.055; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GASGAS), +0:18.530; 3. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GASGAS), +0:32.373; 4. Charli Cannon (AUS, Yamaha), +0:39.418; 5. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, Kawasaki), +0:41.450; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, Fantic), +0:53.977; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +1:04.870; 8. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +1:11.407; 9. Britt Jans-Beken (NED, KTM), +1:38.530; 10. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Yamaha), +1:39.096;
WMX – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, Kawasaki), 24:28.136; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), +0:09.115; 3. Nancy van de Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:10.011; 4. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GASGAS), +0:30.292; 5. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GASGAS), +0:33.282; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, Fantic), +0:36.647; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:51.825; 8. Charli Cannon (AUS, Yamaha), +0:53.521; 9. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, KTM), +1:08.408; 10. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +1:24.599
WMX – Overall Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 47 points; 2. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, KAW), 41 p.; 3. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GAS), 38 p.; 4. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 38 p.; 5. Charli Cannon (AUS, YAM), 31 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, FAN), 30 p.; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 28 p.; 8. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 24 p.; 9. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, KTM), 22 p.; 10. Britt Jans-Beken (NED, KTM), 22 p.;
WMX – Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, KAW), 86 points; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 85 p.; 3. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GAS), 85 p.; 4. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 61 p.; 5. Charli Cannon (AUS, YAM), 58 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, FAN), 58 p.; 7. Britt Jans-Beken (NED, KTM), 52 p.; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 50 p.; 9. Nancy van de Ven (NED, YAM), 42 p.; 10. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, KTM), 42 p.
WMX Race two https://youtu.be/ghOnZy_Juts
WMX Race one https://youtu.be/J7AqO8_0uLY
Credit: Words by Catherine Pattison