This weekend’s Junior Motocross World Championships in Taupo should really sort the men from the boys.
But where does that leave young Otago girl Courtney Duncan, the only female rider in the star-studded, testosterone-fuelled line-up at this prestigious international event?
The 13-year-old from Palmerston, just north of Dunedin, is not at all over-awed by the occasion. In fact, in the same mould as former women’s world champion Katherine Prumm (Yamaha), she is used to racing the boys, and quite often beating them too.
“I hope to be the best Kiwi in the 85cc class,” said a defiant Duncan.
This Saturday and Sunday is when Duncan will push her Yamaha YZ85 to the starting grid, alongside a select bunch of fellow Kiwis, to tackle some of the best motocross riders in the world, at Taupo’s sand and pumice-based Digger McEwen Motocross Park.
“I’m not sure what to expect from the internationals who are coming,” she said. “I’ll just have to wait and see what happens in qualifying, but I did okay in the last warm-up races the Kiwi team had. I finished first and third in the two 85cc races and that’s pretty good.”
But, though brimming with confidence, Duncan also does not want to overestimate her chances. She had a troubled weekend at the New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships — at the same Taupo venue — in April and she is well aware that everything has to go perfectly if she wants to be among the frontrunners this weekend.
“Anyway, I’m pretty excited about the weekend coming up,” she said.
“I’ve been training quite hard and yet still being careful not to injure myself. I’ve been working on my starts and my general fitness. The races at the world champs will be a bit longer than what we did at the nationals.”
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com