Duncan takes over WMX lead with double victories in Spain

8 May 2023

Duncan takes over WMX lead with double victories in Spain

Giving her winner’s speech for the second time over the Spanish MXGP weekend, New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan surmised that she couldn’t have asked for more.

The Big Van World MTX Kawasaki rider heads away from the intu Xanadú Arroyomolinos track with two FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship winner’s trophies, the round victory, and the coveted WMX championship leader’s red plate at the season’s halfway mark.

Duncan was dominant on her production KX250 Kawasaki as she raced to her first double-moto victory of the season, at the third WMX round. Achieving her 21st career GP victory in the second race has placed her first equal in the all-time series records.

Located near the Spanish capital of Madrid, this hard pack track has been kind to Dunedin’s Duncan in the past and she has left here victorious after her previous two rounds.

“I got the red plate back and went 1-1, so pretty satisfied with that. I don’t know what it is about Spain but I’ve always had success here and I really enjoy the layout of the track,” Duncan says.

She signalled her intentions early on in the weekend, lapping 0.75 secs faster than any of her rivals in the practice session.

Then in Saturday afternoon’s 20-minutes (plus two laps) opening moto she quickly advanced from a cautious third-placed start to take over the lead before the end of the opening lap. Moving clear of her chasers at the rate of 2 secs per lap she led comfortably by 15 secs at the race’s halfway mark and eventually cruised home 28 secs ahead of runner-up rider Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi.

The 25 points for moto victory also moved her to the head of the championship standings by five points going into the second race.

Duncan was closed down coming out of the start gate but she didn’t panic and moved steadily up to fifth. The sticky track conditions featured deep ruts in many of the turns due to the track-watering necessary to combat the intense Spanish heat. As per usual, the tougher it got – the better Duncan rode. She chose her lines cleverly to avoid coming together with her rivals, and picking them off one-by-one, moved to the front on the fourth of 11 laps. Duncan then eased away to take the chequered flag by 7 secs.

She now takes a 10-point WMX Championship lead to the next round of the series at Villars-sous-Ecot in France in a fortnight. Kawasaki also extended the lead in the FIM Manufacturers’ Championship to 16 points courtesy of Duncan’s double moto victory.

“It feels good to have the red plate back, but at the same time it’s just as important to go out and do my best every moto. As long as I have the red plate at the end of the season that’s all that matters,” Duncan says.

After taking the overall win at the second WMX round at Frauenfeld, Switzerland, over Easter, it feels like she’s on a roll.

“It was cool to carry on the momentum this weekend and hopefully we can carry it on to France in two weeks’ time,” Duncan says.

Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven was understandably thrilled about Duncan’s results.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Courtney’s ride in Spain. Coming from behind in both motos, she did what she needed to do to stay out of trouble and race forward. It was the championship ride she needed at the mid-way point of the season. I am sure she will take this confidence into her next round in France over the May 20 – 21 weekend,” he says.

WMX Race one

WMX Race two

2023 FIM WMX Women’s Motocross World Championship calendar



Grand Prix Date
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


Duncan takes the overall win in Switzerland

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

WMX Race one

Credit: Words by Catherine Pattison

Photos: MXGP


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