The third round of five in the reshaped Women’s Motocross World Championships (WMX) – rehashed because of the COVID-19 pandemic – will take place at Mantova, in Italy, in just over two weeks’ time (on September 27).
Duncan (Kawasaki KX250F) currently leads the standings after the two pre-COVID events. She has 90 points after the first two rounds (in Britain, where she finished 1-1, and The Netherlands, where she went 4-2), five more than her nearest rival, German rider Larissa Papenmeier. Next best is Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi, a further five points behind, with Dutch pair Nancy Van De Ven and Lynn Valk rounding out the top five.
Duncan flew to England this week, excited to rejoin her British-based Bike It DRT Kawasaki racing team.
“It feels like it’s pretty much a complete new start to the season,” said Duncan.
“I planned on going back in May, then it got pushed back to July, then it was supposed to be last month.
“Now, it’s finally happening at end of this month, so it’s been long time coming.”
After winning the world title for the first time last season, Duncan says that, unlike in previous years, she is feeling refreshed and injury-free after the long break back home.
But soon, she’ll be racing in Italy in front of empty grandstands with COVID-19 still prominent in Europe – not that it changes her attitude to racing the WMX series.
“At the end of the day, [winning another title] is why I’m standing here right now. It’s why I’ve put my bags on the plane to head away, to win championships and win races,” Duncan said.
New Zealand’s record with Covid-19 makes Duncan exempt from quarantining when she gets to England, although, with nearly 6000 new cases reported there in the last couple of days, she admits her time there will likely be spent either at the track or at her team’s base.
And when she’s back up to speed there’s just three rounds to race, the finale in November.
She will have an upgraded 2021-model Kawasaki waiting for her when she arrives, this one with an electric start button.
“There is a hydraulic clutch and a new chassis as well. It is pretty much a new bike.”
But the the question remains, is it faster?
“I don’t know. But to be honest with you it is not like road racing. We’re not looking for the fastest bikes.
“Obviously, it is nice, but it is not essential. Making sure the bike handles well and is set up well for me is the key.”
Duncan will have about two weeks on the bike before she has to race on it and she says that is plenty of time.
The first two events are in Mantova, on September 27 and then at the same track again on September 30. The final round is set for Trentino, also in Italy, on November 1.
Photo by Derek Morrison/Fuel My Potential
© Words by Andy McGechan
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here