Kiwi world motocross championships campaigner Courtney Duncan is now more motivated than ever before.
When she crashed out of the first of her two races at the German Grand Prix in May, and was unable to start the second one, Duncan knew her women’s world championship (WMX) title bid was over for 2016.
And then, when this feisty young woman from the South Island spent the following two GPs, in France and Italy, on the sideline as she underwent surgery and then took time to recover, her chances even for a podium finish for the year also evaporated.
However, with four race wins from the seven races she’s started thus far this year, Duncan has shown she’s perhaps the individual who is the most deserving of a title.
The 20-year-old from Palmerston, in Otago, won the day at the penultimate round of the WMX in Switzerland just over a week ago, again demonstrating that she is truly No.1 in the sport.
And, while it seems that winning the world championship title is perhaps just a matter of time for the Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider, that time will have to wait until at least next year, thanks to a photographer’s thoughtlessness that led to her disastrous injury earlier this season.
Duncan was comfortably leading the championships by the time the series had reached round three in Germany and she was leading the first WMX race of the weekend when she clipped an errant photographer, a woman who was standing out on the track over a blind jump.
Duncan hit the ground hard and damaged her wrist and thumb.
The injury-enforced mid-season lay-off that followed has seen Duncan drop from first position, to be now a distant sixth in the standings.
“I’m not worried about where I finish up in the championship now. That’s been ruined for me. It’s all about setting myself up for next season now,” she said.
The seventh and final round of the WMX championships is set for the infield at the Assen road-race circuit, in The Netherlands, in less than two weeks’ time, on August 27-28, and Duncan is motivated to finish the season with a bang.
“My injured hand was solid (in Switzerland) … it’s not far off 100 percent,” she said.
“I had no problem with it all weekend and not much pain. It gets better each time I ride.
“I really didn’t know where I was sitting in the championships before the weekend. It was kind of like coming into the opening round all over again, as I’d missed the previous few rounds and obviously had also been off the bike for a long time.
“I’d been three months away from it and had to watch it on TV instead of being behind the gate. I was just blessed to be back out there doing what I love and to come away with the win I couldn’t have asked for too much more.
“I had two weeks of riding leading up to the Swiss GP and felt solid, but there was a lot of room for improvement. For sure, winning the weekend was a nice comeback.
“I’m not looking at the series overall, obviously I’m well and truly out of that. We have one round left for this season and I would love to finish on a high.”
Duncan and her Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, Fox Racing, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Fulton Hogan, Pirelli, FMF, DID, NGK, Matrix, Renthal, Motomuck, Workshop Graphics, Motoseat, Hammerhead, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics, Etnies, Biketranz and Fulton Hogan.
WMX Championship Top Ten:
1. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 264 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 237 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, HON), 192 p.; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 189 p.; 5. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 188 p.; 6. Courtney Duncan (NZL, YAM), 149 p.; 7. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 135 p.; 8. Shana van der Vlist (NED, YAM), 116 p.; 9. Natalie Kane (IRL, KTM), 108 p.; 10. Britt Van Der Werff (NED, SUZ), 94 p.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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