Kiwi world champ riders MacDonald and Duncan receive medals
In an historic first for Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ), two Kiwi world champion riders Courtney Duncan and Hamish MacDonald were officially presented with their 2019 FIM World Championship medals at a glittering ceremony in Monaco, on Sunday night. (Monday NZ time).
Since MNZ became affiliated with the FIM in 1986, New Zealand has never had two riders win world championship events in a single season.
MacDonald and Duncan experienced a red carpet entrance into the beautiful Sporting Monte-Carlo venue, which boasts views out across one of the most famous bays in Europe and mingled with other 2019 FIM World Champions, including Alex Marquez – Moto2, Tim Gajser – MXGP, Bartosz Zmarzlik – Speedway GP, Emma Bristow – Women’s TrialGP, Bradley Freeman – EnduroGP and Sam Sunderland – Cross Country Rallies.
They then joined nearly 600 guests at the most illustrious occasion on the international motorcycling calendar, before being awarded for their incredible achievements. Dunedin-based 23-year-old Duncan (Kawasaki) dominantly won the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship in 2019, after three years of near misses, since bursting onto the scene as a race-winning rookie in 2016. While 20-year-old MacDonald (Sherco), of Christchurch, claimed the FIM 125cc Youth Enduro World Championship - New Zealand’s first title in the discipline, thanks to an impressive second season at this level.
MNZ General Manager Virginia Henderson says: “It was an extremely proud day for the New Zealand motorcycling community to see Courtney and Hamish receive their medals. The FIM Awards provide a fitting moment to recognise and reward the exploits and achievements of all the two-wheel heroes and heroines and officially crown them as the 2019 FIM World Champions.”
FIM President Jorge Viegas said before the event that: “It will be with immense pride that we welcome our many FIM Champions both individual and team – some new and some returning – who through their incredible skill and bravery continue to increase audiences both at the events and via the amazing TV coverage the various disciplines enjoy.”
“It is always moving to see our champions standing shoulder-to-shoulder on stage with the individuals and organisations that protect and promote motorcycling activity around the world, and who nurture the sporting heroes of the future!” Viegas added.
Duncan says it was “definately a proud moment receiving my world championship medal among all the other winners.”
Her victorious season started with a win in the opening moto of the season at Valkenswaard, The Netherlands. Although she slipped to fourth in the second moto and allowed Dutch rider Nancy van der Ven (Yamaha) to claim the top spot, that would prove to be the only moment she would let her guard down all season.
Consecutive doubles in Portugal, the Czech Republic and Italy, set up a title shot at the final round in Turkey, where she wasted no time in wrapping things up with a dominant 12-second victory in the first moto. Duncan signed-off her 2019 assault with a second race win, making it nine from ten for the season, as she followed in the footsteps of fellow Kiwi Katherine Oberlin-Brown(nee Prumm), who won the Women’s World Cupin 2006 and 2007, before the class was elevated to FIM World Motocross Championship status.
MacDonald showed the world how it was done this year too, by scoring a podium in every single race that he finished in the seven-round season. The first Kiwi rider to compete at world level in over fifteen years, he also showed no shortage of grit and determination to come back after breaking his shoulder at the third round in Spain, where he missed out on the points completely after back-to-back double victories in Germany and Portugal.
His only other no-score after that was on the second day in Italy and despite having conceded the championship lead to Italy’s Claudio Spanu (Husqvarna), MacDonald gradually fought back to make sure of the title with a pair of third places at the final round in Ambert, France.
He and Duncan were treated to all the super-star treatment in Monaco – complete with a helicopter transfer into Monte Carlo and Duncan was dressed for the awards night by Kiwi fashion label Company of Strangers, from her hometown of Dunedin.
“It was a huge honour to be representing New Zealand at these awards and to have Hamish alongside - another Kiwi - is pretty special for our country. I will enjoy this moment before I get back to work towards next season,” Duncan says.
MacDonald was blown away by the hillside district of Monte Carlo, describing it as “amazing and so beautiful.”
“It was great to represent New Zealand on a world stage - not just myself too which is pretty crazy because New Zealand has never had two world champion riders in one year!” Hamish says.
Like Duncan, he will start increasing his hours on the bike and cross-training, as he prepares for the up-coming season, where he moves up to the junior enduro category.
“It will be tough, but I like a challenge and I’m excited to see what it brings, and hopefully I can come back to Monaco next year! Summer will be hard training for me. I don’t know if I’ll race any events in New Zealand yet. I’ll also be doing lots of riding, running and cycling preparing for my return back to Europe in January 2020.” MacDonald says.
Duncan also heads back to Europe around the same time, as her first round is in Britain at the end of February, where she will begin her title defence.
“I’ll start to build for the season when I'm return to New Zealand at the end of the week. It'll be another big year, which I'm looking forward to.” Duncan says.