Managing a knee injury, New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan clung on to second place in the points after the penultimate round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) at Assen, in the Netherlands this weekend.
The Dunedin-based Altherm JCR Yamaha rider says nothing went to plan for her in the two races, where she finished fourth in each outing.
“I know as an athlete that’s part of it. Not every day is good and sometimes they will be harder than others and it was just one of those days,” Duncan says.
Her coach Josh Coppins says a gritty Duncan recovered from a total of five crashes – three in the first race and two in the second – to salvage the runner-up position in the WMX. The title chase has tightened up to a new level of competitiveness with the top four in the standings only separated by five points.
Duncan is on 191 points, only two points behind the Netherland’s Nancy Van de Ven (193). Livia Lancelot, of France, is on 190 points and a slender two points behind her on 188 is Italy’s Kiara Fontanessi. This means there will be an all-out fight for the title in a week’s time when the WMX concludes at France’s Villars sous Ecot for the MXGP of Pays de Montbelliard.
Coppins says Duncan’s injury, where she damaged a meniscus in her knee in the previous Czech Republic round in July, means she hasn’t been able to race in the eight-week break.
“So she loses a little bit of the feeling. She struggled a little bit to ride at her rhythm and obviously with the pressure of the championship and mud it was difficult for the knee,” he says.
In Saturday’s WMX Race 1 Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier led the opening five laps, first over Lancelot and then Van de Ven, after the Dutch rider made it by Lancelot on lap three. After the pass on the #114 Van de Ven went after Papenmeier and took the lead.
Meanwhile the title contenders Fontanesi and Duncan where coming back from 11th and 9th place starts. The pair was able to make it up to a 4th place finish for Duncan and a 5th for Fontanesi behind Van de Ven, Papenmeier, and Lancelot.
Race 2 yesterday was full of passes and battles with Van de Ven the only exception as she led from the start and never looked back on her way to the race and overall win. The real shake up was between Fontanesi, Papenmeier, Lancelot, and Duncan who started 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th with Belgium’s Amandine Verstappen in the 5th position early.
Papenmeier struggled early and though she started in 3rd, she dropped to 6th only three laps into the race. At the same time Duncan was moving forward quickly first to 4th on lap 3 and to 3rd on lap 7. However Lancelot made a late charge going from fourth on lap 9 of 12 to cross the line in second ahead of Fontanesi, Duncan, and Papenmeier.
Duncan remained positive moving forward to next weekend’s final round in France.
“It was a tough weekend for us. You have got to move on from it I guess. Too many mistakes from me. At the last round everything is tight but I’m confident and have a good feeling heading into France. I will put the work in this week and we turn the page and hope everything goes to plan,” she says.
Coppins says the focus will be on having positive training sessions this week and trying to make the best of Duncan’s knee injury.
“If it stays good, it’s good. If it’s not good, we have to try to manage it. She needs surgery on it after France but we knew that and to be honest it’s not an excuse. She can still win. We just need Courtney to ride at Courtney’s best. We will go to France to put her best foot forward and still get the championship,” he says.