Otago’s Courtney Duncan is back where she belongs … on top of the women’s motocross world (WMX) championship standings after another sensational display of riding skill, courage and common sense, this time at Loket, in the Czech Republic.
The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider from Palmerston, near Dunedin, arrived at the weekend’s fourth round of six in this season’s FIM Women’s Motocross World Championships in third position overall, but just seven points behind the series leader, Italy’s former world champion Kiara Fontanesi (Yamaha).
Duncan battled valiantly in her first of two WMX races at the tricky Loket track, fighting through traffic from eighth position at the start to eventually take the lead just two corners before the finish and win the race by barely a bike length from rival Fontanesi.
Following the top two was Dutch rider Nancy Van De Ven (Yamaha), ahead of French defending world champion Livia Lancelot (Kawasaki). Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier (Suzuki) rounded out the top five.
“I got a terrible start actually and got pushed wide on the first corner and had to come from really far back,” said Duncan afterwards.
“In my sighting lap I knew that it was really slippery, so I knew I just had to be patient on the first opening laps so I didn’t risk any passes on the other riders. I found my way to fourth and then just took it from there,” she said.
In the second race on Sunday, Duncan was close behind the race leader from Belgium, Amandine Verstappen (KTM), for the first half of the race before losing traction in a corner and going down. While she didn’t lose her position, Duncan dropped a long way back.
While Duncan eventually had to settle for runner-up spot, she did snatch a vital points advantage over her two main rivals for the crown, Fontanesi and Lancelot, overtaking them both and securing the No.1 position on the points table.
From third place and seven points off the lead at the start of the weekend, Duncan is now on top and three points clear of Fontanesi, with Lancelot now third, four points further back.
Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team boss Josh Coppins, of Motueka, was naturally thrilled with the weekend’s performance.
“She rode smart and was patient and was rewarded for that,” said former GP star Coppins.
“Loket is a tough track, especially when it’s wet, it becomes one lined and can be frustrating to make passes, but Courtney kept her cool and did well. It was nice to watch.
“She liked the track in training but it was wet due to watering and then rain in her races which made it tricky and she didn’t enjoy as it was hard to judge.
“We still have work to do for sure but I’d like to think Courtney has turned a page and has now learned that being patient and doing a smart race is more important for her world championship than outright speed currently. Previously she tried to win every lap, every corner and made too many mistakes.”
Duncan and Coppins now look ahead to the fifth and penultimate round of the championships, the Dutch GP at Assen, in The Netherlands, on September 10.
It all wraps up with round six, the French GP at Villars sous Ecot on September 17.
Duncan and her Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, bLU cRU, Fox Racing, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Pirelli, Akrapovic, DID, NGK, Renthal, Motomuck, www.workshopgraphics.co.nz, Motoseat, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics, Etnies, Mazda NZ, Liv Cycling and Monster Energy.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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RESULTS AND STANDINGS:
WMX Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Yamaha), 25:19.226; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:00.462; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:06.263; 4. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:22.865; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Suzuki), +0:25.549; 6. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), +0:28.055; 7. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, Yamaha), +0:42.583; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, Yamaha), +0:53.416; 9. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +1:12.606; 10. Emelie Dahl (SWE, Yamaha), +1:22.855
WMX Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 24:50.505; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Yamaha), +0:11.785; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:18.794; 4. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, Yamaha), +0:26.020; 5. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:27.815; 6. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:43.576; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:53.687; 8. Emelie Dahl (SWE, Yamaha), +1:04.374; 9. Sandra Karlsson (SWE, Kawasaki), +1:06.897; 10. Virginie Germond (SUI, Yamaha), +1:10.883
WMX Overall Top 10:
1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, YAM), 47 points; 2. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 40 p.; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 40 p.; 4. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, YAM), 37 p.; 5. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 34 p.; 6. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, YAM), 32 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 26 p.; 8. Emelie Dahl (SWE, YAM), 24 p.; 9. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 23 p.; 10. Madison Brown (AUS, YAM), 19 p.
WMX Championship Top 10:
1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, YAM), 155 points; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, YAM), 152 p.; 3. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 148 p.; 4. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 143 p.; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 122 p.; 6. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 121 p.; 7. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, YAM), 119 p.; 8. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 89 p.; 9. Francesca Nocera (ITA, SUZ), 77 p.; 10. Virginie Germond (SUI, YAM), 70 p