It is the fourth round of five in the women’s series at Imola, in Italy, this weekend and the 23-year-old Kawasaki rider from Otago knows it is time for her to consolidate her position and hopefully, at the same time, ease the pressure on herself as the championship heads towards its conclusion in Afyon, in Turkey, on September 7-8.
Juggling her time between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where she is based with her Bike It DRT Kawasaki Racing Team, Duncan is leading the 2019 WMX world championship by a solid 14 points from Dutch Yamaha rider Nancy van de Ven.
Duncan should probably have already been crowned world champion. For three seasons now, the intrepid Kiwi has had luck abandon her in her hour of need.
Twice she was denied the world title through injury and on the other occasion she was victim of a controversial decision by officials.
Leading the series in 2016, she struck an errant photographer who was standing out on the track at the German GP, crashed and broke her wrist.
In 2017 she was again on target to win the title when a muddy hillside at the final round in France became impossible for the riders and the race was abandoned.
Instead of the race being wound back a lap prior to the stoppage (when Duncan had been leading) and a result declared from that, as normally happens, it was controversially decided to give the title to the French rider who was leading at the moment the race was actually stopped, despite so many of the riders by that stage having illegally cut the course to avoid the hill.
Again leading the world series in 2018, she suffered further misfortune, this time injuring her right foot during a non-GP championship race between the GPs, ruling her out of the final two GP events.
So, more determined than ever to finally achieve her goal, Duncan this year made the decision to join the highly-experienced British Kawasaki squad run by Steve Dixon.
“They’ve given me an awesome opportunity and I’m very motivated to put them on top in 2019. A fresh start was what I needed and I couldn’t be more excited than to do that with Kawasaki. Kawasaki New Zealand have also come on board to support me at home, for which I am also very thankful.”
Photo courtesy Pascal Haudiquert
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here
Leading WMX championship standings after 3 of 5 rounds:
1. Courtney Duncan (NZ, Kawasaki) 139 points; 2. Nancy van de Ven (Netherlands) 125; 3. Larissa Papenmeier (Germany) 122; 4. Amandine Verstappen (Belgium) 100; 5. Shana Van Der Vlist (Netherlands) 93.