So you can bet anything you like, New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan is trying very hard indeed to defend her FIM World Women’s Motocross Championship crown.
The Otago rider gave the 2021 KX250 Kawasaki a winning debut in the opening moto at Mantova, round three of the FIM World WMX Motocross Championships, before a race two crash saw her surrender the points lead in the series.
The British-based DRT Kawasaki Team rider from Palmerston, debuting a 2021 KX250F straight out of the crate, except for an after-market pipe, was content with second fastest lap time during morning qualifying for her first race since March but when the gate dropped for the opening moto at the loose-surfaced track on the outskirts of the famous north Italian town of Mantova she immediately took command.
Cleverly escaping a potentially nasty moment at turn two as another girl fell directly next to her, Duncan immediately set her sights on the leader and already swept past into first place halfway round the opening lap.
After two laps she already led by eleven seconds and, consistently recording lap times several seconds faster than the opposition, extended that advantage to nearly half a minute at one stage; despite stalling the motor in a banked turn four laps from the close she was quickly underway again thanks to the E-starter fitted to the 2021 model to cruise to victory by 16 seconds.
Sixth through the awkward opening turn in race two, the Kiwi woman advanced to fourth within two corners and was already second at the completion of the lap; halving her deficit to the leader through the next two laps she then crashed dramatically and, although not injured, could not continue as the handlebars had been broken on impact with the ground during the incident.
The no-points race means that she has been relegated to fourth in the championship standings but there remain two rounds and four motos for her to pull back the 14-point deficit to the new leader – Italy’s Larissa Papenmeier – in the defence of her world title.
In terms of the overall at the weekend, it was Papenmeier who took the overall victory, with Dutch woman Nancy Van De Ven second and Italy’s Kiara Fontanesi finishing third on the podium. As it stands, Papenmeier now leads the championship by 10 points, with Van De Ven second and Fontanesi third. Duncan drops to 4th in the standings just a point behind Fontanesi.
“I started the day pretty good in the first race,” said Duncan afterwards.
“I made a quick pass for the lead and soon built up a good lead. I felt solid and comfortable and did what I needed to do to win. Moto two I felt like I was going to have another good race but just like a click of the fingers I was on the ground, had a big crash and was out of the race. It’s obviously frustrating but there’s no point in dwelling on it; that’s just wasted energy. Sometimes things like this happen but you can either hide away from it or you can stand up and make it happen and I’m going to be here to win on Tuesday and fight right down to the end to keep my title.
“It wasn’t difficult to stay motivated when I was back home in New Zealand; I simply love riding my bike and continued to have fun, putting in the laps just like when I was a kid. There was obviously a lot of uncertainty with the schedule constantly changing but as soon as we had it confirmed that this was going to happen I was ready for it.
“The 2021 (model bike) is really nice; I’ve had a couple of weeks on it and Kawasaki have made a lot of changes even further in the right direction so let’s put Kawasaki back on the top step on Tuesday.”
After racing at Mantova again on Tuesday (September 30), is the final round, set for Trentino, also in Italy, on November 1, which means Duncan has four races left in which to put her campaign back on track.
Photo courtesy Kawasaki Europe
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WMX – Race 1 – Classification:
- Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:35.691; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:15.958; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:23.592; 4. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:37.053; 5. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:43.306; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:48.586; 7. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +1:02.542; 8. Malou Jakobsen (DEN, KTM), +1:12.401; 9. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), +1:20.477; 10. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +1:22.457.
WMX – Race 2 – Classification:
- Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), 26:01.397; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:07.758; 3. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:12.095; 4. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:15.000; 5. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:15.764; 6. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:32.515; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:33.558; 8. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), +1:21.203; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, Suzuki), +1:44.215; 10. Sandra Keller (SUI, KTM), +2:00.745.
WMX – Overall Classification:
- Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 44 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 41 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 36 p.; 4. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 35 p.; 5. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 33 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 32 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 25 p.; 8. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 25 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 21 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), 18 p.
WMX – Championship Classification:
- Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 129 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 119 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 116 p.; 4. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 115 p.; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 98 p.; 6. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 87 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 75 p.; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 60 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 60 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), 54 p.