New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan fought back from a tough start to her opening FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) campaign, to reach the runner-up position after the MXGP of Trentino’s two races this weekend.
The Italian round at the beautiful Pietramurata circuit, featured a hard pack surface set against the Dolomite Mountain range, where Dunedin’s Altherm JCR Yamaha racer Duncan was hoping to stamp her dominance in the first race of the six-round season.
She qualified second on her Altherm Window Systems JCR Yamaha Racing YZ 250F, 1sec behind five-time World Champion Kiara Fontanesi, who was competing on home soil.
Weather conditions were near perfect but the track was technical and soft due to heavy rain the preceding week.
Duncan got a bad start in the first race but had moved up to around seventh on the sixth corner when she crashed when trying to make a pass and ended up dead last. It took the 21-year-old a long time to get the bike started and get going again and because the track was hard to pass on, she finished in sixth place.
Duncan’s team manager Josh Coppins, a former, successful MXGP racer himself, described the Pietramurata circuit as “super one-lined.”
He says he was initially disappointed with Duncan’s first result but then he watched the MX2 and MX1 qualifying races, and saw both world champions crash in the opening lap. Neither on them were able to come back to better than 15th.
“So it showed me that actually it was very, very difficult to pass on.”
“I asked Courtney to try and ride a little bit better today for race two and she did that. She got a good start and she rounded the first corner in second and went straight into the lead pretty quickly on lap one. She led the whole race and pulled a 16sec lead and then Kiara got into second place and Courtney pulled another 5secs on Kiara and won the race by 20.3 secs,” Coppins says.
He was pleased to see Duncan execute such a dominant win and to have ridden and managed both races “extremely well.”
The commanding win was enough to boost Duncan up into second-equal with Fontanesi and the Netherland’s Nancy Van De Ven on 40 points, just 5 points behind Larissa Papenmeier, of Germany.
Duncan has had limited time back on her bike after rehabilitating from surgeries over the off-season but was pleased with her progress.
“It was a solid start to the season. Obviously yesterday’s mistake was disappointing but I’m happy to rebound today with a win and second overall is a good start to the season.”
“We have already moved our focus to Portugal this coming weekend and we are hoping to improve again,” Duncan says.
She promises her rivals that there is more to come from her.
“I felt solid but still the feeling is not there yet. I haven’t had a long pre-season on the bike but the more I race, the more confident I feel. We can only get better,” she says.
Duncan, Coppins and the Altherm JCR Yamaha team travel from Italy to Portugal this week and will aim to fit in some training in the north of Spain on Wednesday.
“Then we race Saturday and Sunday in Portugal where we will try to get the red plate,’ Coppins says.