It would not be unkind to call Courtney Duncan a machine.
How else would you describe a 15-year-old Otago girl who rides nine out of 18 races at an event, mostly against teenage boys, and finishes on the podium in nearly all of them?
The Yamaha ace from Palmerston took her Yamaha YZ85 to a hat-trick of wins in the women’s class at the annual Labour Weekend Motocross Extravaganza in Taupo, beating girls on 125cc and 250cc bikes, including just-crowned national women’s champion Alex Dillon, a 250cc rider on her home track.
But that wasn’t enough for Duncan. She wanted to race the boys too.
This probably should not have come as too much of a surprise. She is, afterall, the national champion in the 13-16 years’ 85cc class – racing against the boys – and she also proved herself against some of the world’s elite young men when she raced to a podium finish in the United States earlier this year.
Again there were no looks of shock or amazement from the considerable crowd as Duncan aced the 14-16 years’ 85/150cc class too, bagging another hat-trick of wins.
But even that wasn’t enough for the year 11 pupil from East Otago High School in Palmerston. Duncan wanted to give the 15-16 years’ 125cc class a go as well.
So she took a YZ85, bored out to 103cc, and finished 4-10-4 in her three 125cc class races, good enough for fifth overall on the day, just seven points behind Katikati’s Garth Amrein, who rode a Yamaha YZ125.
The 15-16 years’ 125cc class was won by Rotorua’s Cameron Vaughan, racing yet another YZ125.
“It took us 14 hours to travel from Otago to Taupo and we only made the decision to come up here on Monday,” said Duncan. “It’s tough sometimes, balancing training, racing and school work, but that’s what you’ve got to do to be the best in a sport and that’s what I want … to be the best.”
Some would argue that she’s already the best but Duncan is her own toughest taskmaster.
“Sure, I’ve won some national titles in the United States and New Zealand this season, but I still feel like I’ve got a long way to go.
“I’m going to be riding the bigger 125cc bikes a lot more now and I’m already enjoying that. I need to get stronger but I had six wins out of nine starts so I guess I’m pretty strong already.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com