Demonstrating exactly why she is the reigning FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX) title holder, Courtney Duncan bounced back from a DNF on Saturday to take the overall round victory yesterday.

Racing at the Italian Mantova track for the second time in three days, Dunedin’s Duncan (24) upped the ante on her 2020 championship defence with a 2-1 set of results at the penultimate race meeting.

The two consistent races boosted the Kawasaki Dixon Racing Team’s rider into an all-out attack position for the final meeting in Pietramurata for the MXGP of Trentino in November. Her well executed round victory slots her into runner-up position, just four points down on the new championship leader Nancy Van De Ven of The Netherlands.

Now in her fifth season racing in the WMX, Duncan proved to the motocross world and to herself that she has the maturity, mental and physical strength to overcome a disappointing previous race where she had what she termed a “pretty nasty crash”.

“I’m so stoked with today – the moto win and the overall.  Making up the points was great but to be honest with you, the thing I was most proud of was how I was able to forget about what happened on Sunday, regroup and to come out and put a performance like that in.”

“It makes me really proud – for the team and for everyone that supports me, it’s great. Obviously I needed to as well, it was quite bad, I was 14 points down. It was important that I made it up,” Duncan says.

Kawasaki New Zealand Managing Director Shane Verhoeven summed up how Duncan’s fans will feel about her comeback races.

“I think I speak for all of New Zealand in saying that we are ecstatic to see Courtney put in the work and bounce back from her round 3 crash and take the round 4 overall. It really speaks to her determination and character and we will be backing her to become back-to-back champion at the final round,” he says.

In the opening race, it was Van De Ven who claimed the holeshot and she was closely followed by Italian rider Kiara Fontanesi, Duncan and Germany’s  Larissa Papenmeier.

Papenmeier then moved herself quickly into second, finding a few gaps in the first couple of corners, with Fontanesi and Duncan just behind her.

As Van De Ven began to pull away, Fontanesi found a way to pass Papenmeier for second. Fontanesi then caught on to the rear wheel of Van De Ven, while Duncan was looking to go through on Papenmeier as the battle for the win heated up. Eventually Duncan was able to move up a position on lap 6.

By the following lap, Fontanesi was the new race leader as Duncan began to push Van De Ven for second in order to claim as many championship points as possible. This battle for second continued until the chequered flag.

Eventually Fontanesi crossed the line in first, although she was penalised for jumping on a waved yellow flag which ultimately gave Van De Ven the win, with Duncan promoted to second, claiming valuable extra points and Fontanesi dropped to third.

In the second race, Duncan had well and truly found her groove, leading the field around the first turn, with Van De Ven second, Papenmeier third and Fontanesi fourth. The red plate holder going into this round Papenmeier then crashed out of fourth dropping down to 12th.

Duncan then went on to set the fastest lap of the race, as she extended her lead to 3.920 seconds and went on to cruise her way to a race win by 19.2secs.

With one round to go on November 1, the championship chase is heating up as Van De Ven leads Duncan by just 4 points, with Papenmeier dropping to third and Fontanesi in fourth. The five weeks to go before the final round, plays perfectly into the hard-working Kiwi’s hands.

“That’s great for me because it gives me more time with the team, more time to test and more time to put some work in with the [Kawasaki KX250] 21. Having some extra weeks is going to be great. I think I can really put a good stint in there and make a lot of improvements,” Duncan says.

While the final round will be a nail-biter for Duncan’s home-country fans watching her races online back in New Zealand, she’s gunning for the challenge.

“The points are close. It’s going to be whoever wins in Arco [the town hosting the MXGP of Trentino] is champion. It’s going to be a do or die situation and I’m excited for that,” Duncan wraps up.

WMX – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), 25:28.624; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), +0:01.593; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +-1:58.382; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:02.698; 5. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:23.631; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:25.880; 7. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:35.469; 8. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:43.571; 9. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:59.409; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), +1:16.433.

WMX – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:40.460; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:19.231; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:37.942; 4. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:42.282; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:44.658; 6. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:50.077; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:51.165; 8. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:57.334; 9. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Kawasaki), +1:06.966; 10. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), +1:30.616.

WMX – Overall Top 10 Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 47 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 47 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 40 p.; 4. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 33 p.; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 31 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 30 p.; 7. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KAW), 28 p.; 8. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 27 p.; 9. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 27 p.; 10. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), 21 p.

WMX – Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 166 points; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 162 p.; 3. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 160 p.; 4. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 156 p.; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 128 p.; 6. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 114 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 102 p.; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 93 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 77 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), 75 p.

Revised Women’s Motocross World Championship calendar 

September 27 – MXGP Lombardia, Mantova circuit, Italy

September 30 – MXGP of Città di Mantova, Mantova circuit, Italy

November 1   –  MXGP of Trentino,  Pietramurata, Italy

Words: Catherine Pattison


PHOTO: Boosting her title defence massively, Kawasaki Dixon Racing Team’s Courtney Duncan, of Dunedin, New Zealand, won the MXGP of Città di Mantova penultimate round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship, in Italy yesterday. CREDIT MXGP.

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