Dutch rider Nancy van de Ven won her home Grand Prix at the weekend, taking over the lead in the Women’s Motocross World Championships from New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan.
The Yamaha rider dominated all sessions – qualifying and both races – for her first GP win of the season.
It has been a season filled with uncertainty as four of the fastest females in the world have been battling for WMX supremacy over the last five rounds of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship.
This weekend, the fifth round of the six in the series took place at the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen and van de Ven made a solid bid for the title, while the ‘Kiwi Girl’, Duncan, struck problems with the sandy track.
The Dutch girl electrified the crowd and proved she’s a force to be reckoned with after she came into Assen fourth-place in the WMX Championship Standings, 12-points down, and has left with the red-plate and a 3-point lead over Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider Duncan, from Otago.
With rain hammering the venue on Saturday, Yamaha’s talented ladies had their work cut out for them as they plunged into the wet and rutty sand of Assen for the first race of the Grand Prix.
The race didn’t get off to the best of starts for all three girls as the trio found themselves on the deck during the opening laps. Nancy van de Ven – who qualified a whopping 7.5-seconds faster than anyone else – was quick to remount and before the end of lap-three she was already in fourth place and rapidly reeling in the leaders.
With some of the ruts and holes being waist deep and topped by a layer of sloppy mud, the championship leader Duncan and MXFonta Yamaha Official WMX’s Kiara Fontanesi both ended up face down in the dirt a couple of times. Each crash dropped the duo back outside of the top-10 where they had to dig-deep to recoup positions.
In such treacherous conditions, surviving the race is a huge achievement.
After numerous crashes, Duncan managed to salvage fourth place while fellow Fontanesi had a similar race and managed to recover enough positions for fifth place. Nancy van de Ven, on the other hand, was nothing short of incredible. She took the lead from Larissa Papenmeir and one of her biggest rivals – French Kawasaki ace Livia Lancelot –
and put in a thrilling ride to win by a whopping 46-seconds. Duncan and Fontanesi managed to salvage enough places to round out the top-five.
On the second day of the Women’s Grand Prix, the riders were pleasantly surprised to see the sun beaming across cloudless skies, assisting in the drying of the saturated sand. When the gates dropped the fans leapt to their feet as van de Ven led the riders into turn-three ahead of Duncan and Fontanesi.
Van de Ven’s form at the weekend was on another level. She was flawless in Race 2 and led every lap for her third race win of the season. Her impeccable 1-1 result landed her on the top step of the podium for the first time this year.
A mistake by Duncan early on dropped the Kiwi back to sixth place.
Desperate to redeem herself she clawed her way back to second place before making a costly mistake and crashing. But 18-seconds was the price, and an impossible margin to shrink with only two-laps left in the moto. She finished in fourth place – behind Fontanesi who finished in third – and was forced to relinquish the red-plate. Duncan finished fifth overall at the WMX Grand Prix of The Netherlands and was pushed back to second place in the WMX Championship Standings. She now trails van de Ven by two points.
Fontanesi was fourth overall this weekend and has been nudged back to fourth-place in the championship standings. She is three points shy of Duncan going into the final round of the championship which will take place next weekend – September 16-17 – at Villars-sous-Ecot, in France.
“I feel really good about this weekend. I did the maximum and took maximum points. I also took the red plate, so it couldn’t have been better,” said van de Ven.
Photo courtesy Yamaha Europe
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