22 May 2023
New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan has cemented herself in FIM World WMX Women’s Motocross Championship history, with double moto victories in France giving her the record for the most ever Grand Prix wins with 22.
Fittingly, her closest competitor over the weekend at the Villars sous Écot track was her long-time rival and 21 career GP winner Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi, whom Duncan has now moved ahead of by one.
Riding for Big Van World MTX Kawasaki, Duncan beat French round runner-up and six-time world champion Fontanesi in both races to take overall victory in France and extend her overall championship lead by 20 points.
“These French GP wins saw me take over the all-time GP wins in WMX and I’m definitely stoked on that. It was something I wanted to achieve coming into this weekend, so to tick that off is an incredibly good feeling,” Duncan says.
A three-time world champion, Duncan is in fine form this season with five moto wins from eight starts to her name. For the past two rounds, where she has won every race, it seems everything she touches turns to gold and even a crash in the first moto just fuelled her fire.
Twenty-seven-year-old Duncan was quickly through to second with a dramatic downhill double-pass halfway around the opening lap on the highly technical, heavy French track. As she closed in on the leader Fontanesi, she cross-rutted on a heavy landing and was thrown into the trackside earth-bank. Dunedin’s Duncan quickly reboarded her Kawasaki KX250 and re-joined the race in fifth place, before swiftly moving back into third.
The race leader was already 11 secs clear and the second placed rider Spain’s Daniela Guillen was 4 secs up the track – meaning Duncan had her work cut out for her. By lap four she had regained second position and on the eighth of eleven laps, having recorded a succession of fastest laps, she swept decisively around Fontanesi to move in front and eventually win by 27 secs.
Heading out to the second race on a high, Duncan did something unusual for her.
“In the second race, I took the holeshot which usually never happens. So, I think I was honestly more stoked on the holeshot than the eventual race win. I led from start to finish so can’t complain about that,” she says.
Her second moto victory for the weekend was achieved 7 secs ahead of Fontanesi.
As the WMX series takes a break until mid-August, Duncan heads home to New Zealand with an extremely solid 20-point-lead in the championship standings and the knowledge she more than has what it takes to bring back her fourth winner’s trophy at the season’s end in September.
“I think there’s multiple things that are working for me in 2023. It started off with our pre-season, where I had a really strong build-up in New Zealand. We put a lot of hard work in there and it set me off on the right foot,” she says.
“My bike is also super good, especially the suspension, which I did a lot of testing with in NZ before I left.”
“I’m also another year wiser and it’s good to have a bit more speed. All in all, it’s been a really good start to the season.”
Duncan will spend around a month in New Zealand before heading to the Netherlands, where the penultimate fifth round will be held.
“The next race is in the sand, so I will do about a five or six-week boot camp there to get ready for that,” she says.
Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says: “To say we’re proud of what Courtney has achieved this weekend is an understatement. Taking the WMX GP win record is no small feat when the competition gets fiercer every season.”
“The eye-test is showing the extra hours testing suspension in NZ is paying off and Courtney has shown that, when comfortable, she does not need good starts to win. Thankfully, her rare holeshot in moto 2 must have been very welcome.”
“We looked forward to seeing Courtney back in NZ for the season break and at the Kawasaki stand at Fieldays next month.”
WMX – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 11. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 26:40.276; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GASGAS), +0:27.263; 3. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GASGAS), +0:35.187; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:41.001; 5. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, Kawasaki), +0:44.094; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, Fantic), +0:47.843; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +1:25.376; 8. Mathilde Martinez (FRA, GASGAS), +1:38.506; 9. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Yamaha), +1:45.255; 10. Martine Hughes (NOR, Husqvarna), +2:04.735
WMX – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:33.282; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GASGAS), +0:07.444; 3. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GASGAS), +0:09.403; 4. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, Kawasaki), +0:17.509; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:31.275; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, Fantic), +0:37.028; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:57.815; 8. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Yamaha), +1:07.731; 9. Danee Gelissen (NED, KTM), +1:18.948; 10. Mathea Seleboe (NOR, Yamaha), +1:21.736
WMX – Overall Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 50 points; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 44 p.; 3. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GAS), 40 p.; 4. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, KAW), 34 p.; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 34 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, FAN), 30 p.; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 28 p.; 8. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, YAM), 25 p.; 9. Mathilde Martinez (FRA, GAS), 22 p.; 10. Danee Gelissen (NED, KTM), 21 p
WMX – Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 185 points; 2. Daniela Guillen (ESP, GAS), 165 p.; 3. Lotte Van Drunen (NED, KAW), 150 p.; 4. Lynn Valk (NED, FAN), 128 p.; 5. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 127 p.; 6. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 105 p.; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 103 p.; 8. Charli Cannon (AUS, YAM), 91 p.; 9. Britt Jans-Beken (NED, YAM), 84 p.; 10. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, KTM), 73 p
WMX race weekend highlights https://youtu.be/BOWOYSRJ8Mc
Moto one highlights https://youtu.be/bT3JunjHlwg
2023 FIM WMX Women’s Motocross World Championship calendar
|1||Sardegna (ITA) – Riola Sardo||25 – 26 Mar|
|2||Switzerland – Frauenfeld||8 – 10 Apr|
|3||Spain – intu Xanadú – Arroyomolinos||6 – 7 May|
|4||France – Villars sous Ecot||20 – 21 May|
|5||Netherlands – Arnhem||19 – 20 Aug|
|6||Turkey – Afyonkarahisar||2 – 3 Sep|
Credit: Words by Catherine Pattison
PHOTOS CREDIT: MONSTER ENERGY