Executing the ultimate come-back, Kiwi motocross star Courtney Duncan returned from a big crash in her first FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) race to win the second outing at the Fiat Professional MXGP of France this weekend.
Racing in front of thousands of energetic and dedicated fans at the Ernée circuit, Duncan continued her learning process, as she seeks to further craft her race performances in what is only her second tilt at the WMX title.
This third round of six saw her reluctantly relinquish the red plate as the championship leader but remain within striking distance in third overall – just seven points shy of the new leader Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi.
The weekend started strongly for Duncan (21) as she led out the first race, before her luck took a turn for the worse. Her Altherm JCR Yamaha coach Josh Coppins was watching from the side-lines as Duncan hit the dirt but got up again quickly and was gunning her #151 Yamaha back from second place.
“Then while trying to pass for the lead, she had a really big crash and DNFed the race,” former MXGP star Coppins says.
Duncan, who is originally from Palmerston, near Dunedin, was lucky to escape with just bruises and the burning desire for vengeance. She certainly came back with a fire in her belly, making her way to the front of Race 2 by lap 2, even after a 10th place start.
France’s Livia Lancelot had taken the holeshot but she was quickly passed by Nancy Van De Ven, of the Netherlands, on the first jump. Lancelot didn’t let Van De Ven lead for long though and by the end of the first lap was back in first. After Duncan’s pass on Lancelot it was a game of cat and mouse for the lead but the Frenchwoman knew she had the overall round win for the weekend and wisely settled for second.
“I was happy with my performance in that race. I learnt a lot this weekend about my race management. It was frustrating to not finish the first race but it was 100 per cent my fault,” Duncan says.
At the halfway point in the championship, only one point separates Fontanesi (115) and Lancelot (114), with Duncan (108) not far behind, breathing down both their necks.
“We are still in the championship hunt. We are fast enough but I just have to be smarter with my race craft,” Duncan says.
Coppins believes she can turn the championship around if she can put the mistakes behind her.
“Hopefully she can start to iron them out which she did today [when she won Race 2]. Everything else ran smoothly, including the bike and she rode well,” he says.
Duncan will remain in Europe at her Belgium base and prepare for the next WMX round in the Czech Republic on July 22/23.