As the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) made its much-anticipated return in Mantova, Italy, yesterday for round three, Otago’s Courtney Duncan had the best, then the worst of races.

As the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) made its much-anticipated return in Mantova, Italy, yesterday for round three, Otago’s Courtney Duncan had the best, then the worst of races.

After a five-month Covid-19-induced break, the Dunedin rider made her comeback in convincing style on the sandy track with a win in the MXGP of Lombardia’s opening race.

The shortened race programme meant the WMX field lined up only hours later for their second race. Duncan (24) who rides for the English Kawasaki Dixon Racing Team had made her way up to second place when she had what she described as a “massive crash.” The impact over the jump was heavy enough to destroy the handlebars of her new 2021 Kawasaki KX250, leaving an uninjured but devastated Duncan unable to finish the race and collect any championship points.

She had gone into this round with a five-point lead over Larissa Papenmeier but the tables have now been turned with the German rider emerging as the round winner and taking over the championship’s red plate. She sits on 129 points, with Duncan holding on in fourth with 115 points.

Duncan took away the maximum 25 points in the first race after wasting no time moving into the lead. She then kept the hammer down to take an impressive win by 15.9secs from runner-up Papenmeier and Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi.

“It was an up and down day for me, which started off really well as I won the first race and felt pretty good.  I had a comfortable lead and maintained it,” Duncan says.

In the second race, although she “didn’t get the best of starts” she quickly charged through to second, chasing the leader Nancy Van De Ven, of The Netherlands. Disaster struck as Duncan had a huge crash on one of the table tops, with her bike taking most of the impact. The damage to her Kawasaki meant the defending world champion was unable to fight back and was forced out of the race, which ultimately cost her the championship lead too.

“I’d made some passes on the opening laps and made my way into second. I wasn’t too far off the lead when I had a massive crash. I ran back to the bike but the handlebars were snapped so there was no way of finishing, which resulted in a DNF,” Duncan says

She only has a short timeframe to regroup with the WMX racing in Italy in only two days’ time on September 30. The MXGP of Città di Mantova, will be held at Mantova circuit again and the tough Kiwi will be fighting to regain the red plate.

“That’s the way life goes sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan. I can dwell on it, or I can go back to work on Tuesday and continue to fight. That’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to show up on Tuesday and give it everything I’ve got,” Duncan says.

Kawasaki New Zealand Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says: “It was great to watch Courtney race the new 2021 KX250 in dominating fashion in the first race at the MXGP Lombardia. The Kawasaki NZ team hope that she is feeling ok after her race 2 crash and we wish her all the best to regroup and finish out the season strong.”

The fifth and final WMX round will be held in Italy again, on November 1.

WMX – Race 1 – Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:35.691; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:15.958; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:23.592; 4. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:37.053; 5. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:43.306; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:48.586; 7. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +1:02.542; 8. Malou Jakobsen (DEN, KTM), +1:12.401; 9. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), +1:20.477; 10. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +1:22.457.

WMX – Race 2 – Classification: 1. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), 26:01.397; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:07.758; 3. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:12.095; 4. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:15.000; 5. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:15.764; 6. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:32.515; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:33.558; 8. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), +1:21.203; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, Suzuki), +1:44.215; 10. Sandra Keller (SUI, KTM), +2:00.745.

WMX – Overall Classification: 1. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 44 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 41 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 36 p.; 4. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 35 p.; 5. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 33 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 32 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 25 p.; 8. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 25 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 21 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), 18 p.

WMX – Championship Classification: 1. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 129 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 119 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 116 p.; 4. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 115 p.; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 98 p.; 6. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 87 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 75 p.; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 60 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 60 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), 54 p.

PHOTO: Kawasaki Dixon Racing Team’s Courtney Duncan, of New Zealand, had a win and a DNF at the third round of the FIM Motocross World Championship’s  MXGP of Lombardia. CREDIT MXGP.

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

Words: Catherine Pattison