Kiwi girl Courtney Duncan has shown the world how it’s done, winning both races in the Portuguese round of the FIM Women’s Motocross Championship and taking the overall points lead this weekend.
The 22-year-old Altherm JCR rider from Palmerston, Otago, demonstrated her pure race class over the two days on changing conditions, from a rutted and technical track on Saturday to a soft and tricky surface on Sunday.
“It was a really good weekend and I’m stoked with how it ended up. I was on pole in qualifying then was able to go 1-1 in both races,” an elated Duncan says.
They were only the second set double wins in her international career and it has been two years since she last notched up two victories at the same race meeting.
They were particularly satisfying as the red soil of the Agueda circuit, turned it all on in terms of testing the riders.
“It was really tricky conditions out there and both races were completely different. One was heaps of ruts and really technical and the second moto was really muddy, as we got rain in the night, which made for tough conditions out there this morning. So to come away with two wins and the championship lead is super rewarding,” Duncan says.
She had taken the fastest lap of time practice and then carried her speed forward in the first race, taking the holeshot off the start and never looking back. Behind Duncan was the Netherlands’ Nancy Van De Ven for every lap of the 11-lap race.
At the finish Duncan beat Van De Ven by 13.9 secs and Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier took third.
Duncan’s Altherm JCR Yamaha team manager Josh Coppins says his rider had pulled out a 20sec lead but backed it off at the finish.
“I feel like she has matured a lot and is starting to understand how to control and manage the race and has a better understanding of how to control the lead.”
In race 2 Papenmeier shot into the lead ahead of reigning world champion Kiara Fontanesi, of Italy. After the first lap, Duncan made it past Fontanesi for second and had her eyes set on Papenmeier. On the fifth lap of ten, Duncan made a pass stick for first position, opening a gap over Papenmeier and the rest, eventually crossing the line 8.7secs ahead of second.
Duncan’s double race wins not only gave her the overall win but also the championship leader’s red plate by 3 points over Papenmeier and 10 points over Van De Ven, with Fontanesi languishing 16 points behind.
Coppins was thrilled with the way Duncan rode this weekend.
“To go 1-1 that’s only her second-ever double win and it’s been two years between them,” he says.
With four WMX rounds left, having the red plate early on places Duncan in solid contention for her maiden world championship title, Coppins says.
“Her speed has always been great. I feel like we are starting to make more progress in that area and it’s showing in the results and putting her in a good place.”
Duncan will race in the Germany WMX round in in five weekends time and will keep her race eye in by competing in a French championship race this weekend.
As she travelled back to her Belgium base after racing, Duncan had some words of gratitude to send home.
“I want to thank my team, sponsors and everyone who supports me.”