30 May 2022
New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan cemented herself as the reigning comeback queen at the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship’s (WMX) penultimate MXGP of Spain round, where she secured overall victory.
The Big Van World MTX Kawasaki rider, who hails from Otago, overcame a broken collarbone – injured at the second WMX round – to go 1-2 on the hardpack circuit of Intu-Xanadù – Arroyomolinos.
Although achieving a four-peat of world title is out of her grasp due to missing the third round a fortnight ago, as she allowed her plated collarbone to heal properly, Duncan still gave the Spanish races everything she had this weekend.
In race one Duncan had a strong start, moving quickly from third to second on the opening lap.
Home-country Spanish rider Daniela Guillén made several attempts to get around Duncan in the following laps. She was close on a couple of occasions, but small mistakes made it difficult to secure the position.
As the race wore on Duncan drew closer to the championship and race leader Dutchwoman Nancy Van De Ven.
At one point both Duncan and Guillen, who were second and third respectively, set an identical lap time of 2:08.337, which at that stage was the race’s fastest lap.
It was in lap 7 that the Kiwi ratcheted up her attack mode and moved around the outside of Van De Ven. Moments later Van De Ven made a mistake which gave Duncan the advantage she was looking for and she dived down the inside. By the next left-hand corner, she went past and into the race lead.
From there the defending and three-time consecutive World Women’s Motocross Champion settled into her work bringing her Kawasaki KX250 home with a 4.241sec advantage over Van De Ven and Guillen.
Duncan says winning her first race was immensely gratifying.
Celebrating her race one win at the MXGP of Spain, New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan flies high. PHOTO CREDIT: MXGP
“Last month I was going under the knife going for surgery and to think I could be on the top step of the box in my first race back was a really proud feeling. I’ve battled through a lot of adversity, so it was cool to push through the other side of it.”
In race two, Duncan grabbed the holeshot as Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier followed closely in second and kept the Kawasaki rider within a close distance.
Spurred on by her country’s motocross fans in the crowd, Spanish rider Guillen passed Duncan for the lead on the 6th lap and held it to the chequered flag.
Duncan finished second ahead of Van De Ven and the 1-2 result gave her enough points for the overall win at her first weekend of racing in 12 weeks. Guillen celebrated on the second step of the box ahead of Van De Ven.
Duncan says she can be proud of her performance this weekend.
“Overall, I’m happy with the weekend. Definitely was a little bit rusty but that’s understandable after being out for a few months. There’s a lot we can take away from this weekend and build on which is exciting. We are not even close to where we can be.”
Cementing her comeback queen status, Courtney Duncan gave it everything to win the MXGP of Spain round. PHOTO CREDIT: MXGP
“Huge thanks to everyone who supports me and I’m just so stoked to fly the Kiwi flag this weekend!” she says.
Duncan was pleased with her decision to sit out the third WMX round.
“My collarbone was really good this weekend because we opted to wait a couple of extra weeks to make it six in total before getting back on the bike. I think looking back at that, it was the smartest thing to do. I’ve been able to train properly since and raced pain-free.”
Duncan will spend the two-and-a-half-month gap in the series’ revised calendar back home in Dunedin, before returning to Europe to contest the fifth and final WMX round, the BitCi MXGP of Turkey on September 3 and 4.
“I’m looking forward to coming home and regrouping, recharging and putting in a lot of work. Hopefully we can be in a better position in the final round in September,” she says.
Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says: “To say we’re proud of Courtney’s resilience is an understatement. Another gritty ride that ultimately put her on the top step of the podium after injury. The Kawasaki team here are looking forward to seeing her on home soil before she heads back in August for the final round.”
WMX – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 24:55.386; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:04.241; 3. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), +0:07.797; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:16.116; 5. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, Yamaha), +0:51.750; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:55.859; 7. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, Honda), +1:01.647; 8. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +1:05.898; 9. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +1:08.092; 10. Mathea Seleboe (NOR, Yamaha), +1:11.259;
WMX – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), 24:53.325; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), +0:08.176; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:14.630; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:15.104; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:38.348; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:42.774; 7. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:48.586; 8. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, Honda), +1:11.898; 9. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, Yamaha), +1:22.495; 10. Malou Jakobsen (DEN, KTM), +1:24.737;
WMX – Overall Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 47 points; 2. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), 45 p.; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 42 p.; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 36 p.; 5. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 30 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 29 p.; 7. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, YAM), 28 p.; 8. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, HON), 27 p.; 9. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KAW), 23 p.; 10. Mathea Seleboe (NOR, YAM), 20 p.;
WMX – Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 173 points; 2. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 148 p.; 3. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 135 p.; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 132 p.; 5. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KAW), 102 p.; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 100 p.; 7. Giorgia Blasigh (ITA, YAM), 96 p.; 8. Martine Hughes (NOR, HON), 95 p.; 9. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), 85 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, HON), 83 p.;
Courtney Duncan on her way to winning the MXGP of Spain. PHOTO CREDIT: KAWASAKI.
Round 1: Saturday 5 March, MXGP of Lombardia, Mantova, Italy.
Round 2: Saturday 2 April, MXGP of Portugal, Agueda.
Round 3: Saturday 14 May, MXGP of Sardegna, Riola Sardo, Sardinia.
Round 4: Saturday 28 May, MXGP of Spain, intu Xanadú.
Round 5: Saturday 3 September, MXGP of Turkey, Afyonkarahisar.
Words: Catherine Pattison