Flying Kiwi Courtney Duncan has continued to dominate the FIM Women’s Motocross Championship (WMX), confidently notching up her second consecutive set of double race wins on the world stage this weekend and considerably extending her lead in the series.
After racing at the MXGP of Germany, on the hills of Teutschenthal, in what was the half-way point of the six-round championship, Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Duncan now leads her nearest competitor Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier by an impressive 15-points. It is a 12-point extension on the 3-point buffer she had after the second round last month in Portugal.
After twice being denied the world title due to circumstances out of her control over the past two years, Otago’s Duncan made sure she rode smart and demonstrated her ability to control the lead, securing assertive wins in both races.
“I’m really happy again with the weekend. Another 1-1 performance here in Germany. Obviously we cannot get any better than that points-wise,” Duncan says.
In the first race on Saturday, although Duncan took the holeshot, she settled in behind defending WMX champion Yamaha’s Kiara Fontanesi, of Italy. Duncan chased her hard, often closing in on her rival as they battled through lapped traffic but waiting for the right moment to pull off her pass.
“I wasn’t really willing to push it on the first few laps. The track was difficult in its own ways. It was very hard to pass and rock hard. It took me a while to find my flow,” Duncan says.
At one point, the fiercely-competitive New Zealander considered protecting her points and accepting a second place.
“Then I was like ‘nah we are going to go for it’. I still felt good enough to win,” she says.
Duncan made a quick pass with two laps to go and was able to pull a 6.9sec lead by the race end, with third-placed Nancy Van De Ven languishing 24.6secs back. Duncan collected the winner’s 25 points and then set out to perfect her winning formula in race two.
Fittingly, that evening she was named Motorcycling New Zealand’s 2017 Female Rider of the Year at a function in Queenstown. Although Duncan was obviously unable to attend the awards ceremony, she proved she is the fastest motocross woman in the world on Sunday in Deutschland.
“I took the holeshot and just rode smart to bring it home and was able to pull a 15-second lead on Kiara in the end, so that was cool. I’m really happy to come out of here having extended out my points lead in the championship,” Duncan says.
Her Altherm JCR Yamaha team manager Josh Coppins was unable to attend this round but from his Motueka base he was delighted with how the weekend panned out for Duncan.
“She pretty much dominated both races. Courtney has really improved on how to lead the race and control the race. We saw her progression already in [the previous WMX round) Portugal and even right from the opening round in Italy,” Coppins says.
“It’s been a really successful weekend to take it from 3 to 15 points. Courtney’s in a really good place. She’s getting more confident at leading a race and knowing when to push and not to push. She seems very relaxed and comfortable in her surroundings and with the way things are going,” Coppins adds.
Duncan’s 15-point lead in the championship is over Papenmeier with Fontanesi and Van De Ven 22 points behind, tied in third place.
From her European base in Belgium, Duncan will compete in a French motocross race in a fortnight and get stuck into her sand training for the soft surface of the WMX’s round four in Ottobiano, Italy on June 16 and 17.
She plans to just focus on each round as it plays out.
“We are halfway through the championship and have got three rounds to go. I’ll just continue to do what I do and take each race as it comes. It’s a lot of training and a lot of races and anything can happen. Now we get stuck into some sand which I’m super excited for,” Duncan says.
“I couldn’t do what I do without my Altherm JCR Yamaha team and my mechanic Bjorn, who works super-hard,” she adds.