The Bike It MTX Kawasaki team rider from Otago regained the series points lead in the FIM World WMX Women’s Motocross Championship after a dramatic last-corner pass on the final race to win the Turkish GP at Afyonkarahisar.
Duncan had started the weekend in second spot overall and two points adrift of Dutch rider Shana van der Vlist (KTM), but she finished it on top of the world championship standings and 15 points clear of Italian rider Kiara Fontanesi (GasGas).
The Kiwi hero was already in determined mood after the morning timed practice session, earning for herself second choice of gate selection.
She swept out of the first turn second in the first 25-minute race and immediately put down the hammer to take over the lead at turn 10 and race clear of her rivals, leading by six seconds after just three laps.
Duncan maintained this advantage until half-distance when the faster girls started to encounter the “traffic” of backmarkers.
Four laps from the end she surrendered the lead but, as she prepared to put in a counter-attack, she ran off the track after the front wheel slipped away in a slick turn; the incident cost her 14 seconds but she did not lose second place and had reduced the deficit to Fontanesi to six seconds by the chequered flag to claim second place and already take over the virtual championship points lead.
Race two was a true classic! The Kiwi girl moved forward to third place already on the first lap and took over second place, just over two seconds shy of the leader, halfway round the following lap.
That was the greatest gap between the leading duo all race as they each gained, and lost, tenths-of-a-second to each other.
Such was their pace that they had outdistanced even the girl in third place by more than 30 seconds at the finish.
A difficult run through lappers on the penultimate lap appeared to have cost the Kawasaki girl her chance of victory but she called on all her resources during the final lap, as both of the leaders faced a clear track, to move relentlessly closer; in the very last corner of the race, Duncan wound open the throttle for a dramatic pass around the outside of her rival to take the chequered flag by just a third-of-a-second.
Underlining her determination that final lap was the fastest of a long and gruelling day.
The rivals had each scored 47 championship points on the day but the Kawasaki girl clinched the top step on the podium by virtue of the second-moto decider.
“It was a good day all round. P2 in qualifying was already a positive for me, then 2-1 for the overall and the red plate so I’m happy with how the day went,” said Duncan afterwards.
“The second race was unreal. It was the last lap so you’re going to give it your best shot; you only have to lead that one lap past the finish line all day!
“Kiara (Fontanesi) was riding well – you can’t take that away from her – but I made a stupid mistake in the first moto, losing the front on a shiny clay spot. That lost me too much time but second is still good with the two-moto format because nothing can beat a 2-1.
“I like Turkey; I enjoy the layout, the jumps are well-built and the dirt’s good. Now I’m looking forward to doing it again on Tuesday.”
The WMX competitors now have three days to regroup before the second race of the Turkish double-header at the same facility on Tuesday.
RESULTS & STANDINGS:
WMX – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
- Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GASGAS), 25:15.247; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), +0:05.922; 3. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:23.598; 4. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:24.160; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:24.938; 6. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:44.661; 7. Elisa Galvagno (ITA, Yamaha), +0:50.273; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:51.266; 9. Lynn Valk (NED, Husqvarna), +0:57.145; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, Honda), +1:15.799.
WMX – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:
- Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:06.664; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GASGAS), +0:00.342; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:34.376; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:38.067; 5. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:47.858; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +1:08.572; 7. Lynn Valk (NED, Husqvarna), +1:13.256; 8. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), +1:16.168; 9. Elisa Galvagno (ITA, Yamaha), +1:18.573; 10. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +1:19.704.
WMX – Top 10 Overall Classification:
- Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 47 points; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 47 p.; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 38 p.; 4. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KAW), 36 p.; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 34 p.; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 28 p.; 7. Lynn Valk (NED, HUS), 26 p.; 8. Elisa Galvagno (ITA, YAM), 26 p.; 9. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 26 p.; 10. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), 22 p.
WMX – Championship Top 10 Classification:
- Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 132 points; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 117 p.; 3. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 113 p.; 4. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 110 p.; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, HUS), 98 p.; 6. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 95 p.; 7. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KAW), 94 p.; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 72 p.; 9. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), 72 p.; 10. Elisa Galvagno (ITA, YAM), 51 p.
2021 Women’s Motocross World Championship calendar:
Round 1: Saturday, July 24 GP of Czech Republic, Loket
Round 2: Saturday, July 31 GP of Flanders-Belgium, Lommel
Round 3: Saturday, September 4 GP of Turkey, Afyonkarahisar
Round 4: Saturday, October 16 GP of Spain, intu Xanadu-Arroyomolinos
Round 5: Saturday, October 30 – GP of Trentino, Pietramurata
Photo courtesy Kawasaki Europe
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