OCTOBER 31, 2022:

It was perhaps appropriate that Kawasaki riders Courtney Duncan and Cody Cooper dominated proceedings in two of the key categories at the 2022 New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships at the weekend.

The popular annual event – which skipped a beat last year due to the pandemic – was sponsored by Kawasaki New Zealand and so emerald seemed to be “la couleur du jour” (the colour of the day) with many riders of the distinctive green bikes showing up at the track near Cambridge to put on a spectacular show of force.

Headlining the event was Otago’s triple women’s world champion Courtney Duncan, briefly at home following her blighted-by-injury 2022 campaign in Europe.

The defending world champion and factory Kawasaki team rider had been forced to accept an unfamiliar seventh overall finish this season after crashing out of racing at round two in Portugal back in April.

Duncan fractured her collarbone when she slipped off awkwardly on the second lap of the first practice session on day one of the Portuguese GP and the track doctor declined permission for her to continue. Her 2022 title defence was suddenly in tatters and there was eventually no coming back from that.

Therefore, her arrival at the Skyline MX track at Te Miro, on the outskirts of Cambridge, at the weekend was a rare but welcome New Zealand appearance for the now fully-recovered Kawasaki ace.

The large crowd at Cambridge certainly appreciated seeing the 26-year-old Duncan (KX250) on home soil and her speed and style was both dazzling and undeniable.

She won all three of her senior women’s class races on Saturday, despite crashing twice in race two, heading off teenage former Australian champion Taylah McCutcheon (Honda) and Tauranga’s recently-crowned British women’s motocross champion Roma Edwards (Honda), with defending New Zealand women’s champion Amie Roberts (Yamaha), from Hamilton, and Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team rider from Otorohanga, Zara Gray, rounding out the top five.

“It’s still about five months away from my 2023 season kick-off in Europe, so this event in Cambridge is not really part of my build-up for that,” she explained.

“It’s just that I’m home and the dates aligned for me and Kawasaki is the main sponsor here, so it was important to show up for them.

“It’s so cool to see the depth of talent here in the women’s grades and the sheer numbers too. When I grew up and started racing there wasn’t even a dedicated women’s class. So to see the numbers and the growth in the sport from when I started is phenomenal. Hopefully it can keep rising.”

It was a similarly dominant performance from Cody Cooper, racing his KX450F in the veteran men’s 35-39 years’ class.

The Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team rider continued on from his outright MX1 class win at the season-opening MX Fest event in Taupo a week earlier, this time fending off former national MX1 champion Justin McDonald (Honda), from Christchurch, and Raetihi’s Richard Horne (Kawasaki), on his way to an impressive hat-trick of wins.

The weekend’s event had been scheduled for two days, but torrential rain overnight on Saturday forced the organisers to abandon day two.

Other class winners at the weekend were Morrinsville’s Kieran Leigh (vets 30-34 years’ class); Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme (vets 40-44 years’ class); Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny (vets 45-49 years’ class); Whakatane’s Darren Capill (vets 50-54 years’ class); New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe (vets 55-59 years’ class); Taupiri’s Mark Fuller (vets over-60 years’ class); Te Awamutu’s Graham Adams (vets over-70 years’ class); Raetihi’s Karaitiana Horne (junior women 125-250cc class); Matamata’s Penny Lang (junior women 85cc class); Blenheim’s Stacey Emms (vets women 30-39 years’ class) and Cambridge’s Sandra Hannon (vets women over-40 years’ class).

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,

Courtney Duncan confirmed to race in the Kawasaki NZ Vets & Women’s Nationals

27 October 2022

Kawasaki’s triple World Women’s Motocross Champion Courtney Duncan treasures racing on home soil and she is excited to compete at the 2022 Kawasaki New Zealand Vets & Women’s Nationals, this weekend.

It’s been a long time since she lined up at this event’s start gate – about eight years by her reckoning – and the Dunedin-based, international star is looking forward to representing her brand on her green machine KX250.

Kawasaki New Zealand is the nationals’ naming rights sponsor and the event will be run by the Cambridge Motocross Club. The venue Skyline MX (205 Oliver Road, Te Miro), near Cambridge, is on private property and the track offers almost 360-degree views out towards the Kaimai ranges.

Three-time World Women’s Motocross Champion Courtney Duncan delighted fans when she spent the weekend at the recent KawiGirls Campout in Huntly.

Kawasaki New Zealand will fly Duncan and her mechanic Grant Cuthbertson north to attend the event, while her motorbike – kitted out with the familiar setup she’s accustomed to in Europe – is being driven up from her hometown for the race. A spare bike will also be available for Duncan.

The brand will set up a large pit area welcoming Kawasaki vets and women from around the country, including several South Island dealers (Dean Bond from Powerzone in Balclutha, plus Mark Howden and Justin Shaw from Motoworx Winton) who will be making the long trek up to Cambridge, to be a part of the action.

Duncan says her ride for the weekend is “pretty close to a stock cage 250 with some suspension on it and my graphics.”

Her main competition will come from visiting Australian Honda factory rider Taylah McCutcheon, who dominated the Senior Women’s class at last weekend’s MX Fest in Taupo; current British Women’s Champ Roma Edwards, of Mount Maunganui (Honda) and reigning New Zealand women’s champion Hamilton’s Amie Roberts (Yamaha).

“It’ll be cool racing in NZ with the girls. They are all racing well at the moment. It’s been a while since I competed against them, except for Roma, who I raced at the worlds in Spain. This weekend should be some fun and hopefully we have a good turnout,” Duncan says.

Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven says the brand is “excited to host Courtney at the Kawasaki New Zealand Vets & Women’s Nationals.”

“It’s a unique opportunity for New Zealanders to see our three-time World Champ race at a national event. It’s a rare occurrence considering her busy schedule and sponsor commitments.”

“We have a great Kawasaki line-up with Courtney’s stablemates Bridgestone Kawasaki Race Team’s Zara Gray, whose hometown is Cambridge and KawiGirls founder, Hamilton’s Mikayla Rowe, both entered. I expect the atmosphere to be electric with the profile of women’s motocross on the rise.”

Bridgestone Kawasaki Race Team’s rider Zara Gray, of Cambridge, will race at this weekend’s 2022 New Zealand Vets & Women’s Nationals.

KawiGirls founder, Hamilton’s Mikayla Rowe, will also represent the Kawasaki brand this weekend.

“We’ve provided Courtney with the tools to win, through ensuring her bike and mechanic make the trip up from the South Island to support her bid for the NZ title,” Verhoeven says.

This weekend provides some key track time for Duncan as part of her off-season.

“We’re putting programmes in place both off and on the bike that will hopefully be a bit more effective for the 2023 world champs. Obviously, this year was tough, which exposed me to a few weaknesses that I need to be better at mastering and I’m currently working on that,” she says.

This time of year, I have time to give back to the schools and local events like the KawiGirls Campout, plus do a bit for the industry and Kawasaki. All in all, I’m just enjoying my time at home before the season kick starts again,” Duncan wraps up.

More details about the 2022 Kawasaki NZ Vets & Women’s Nationals can be found here:

Credit: Words by Catherine Pattison

Photos: Kawasaki NZ