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Kiwi Hero Duncan Makes It Two World Titles In A Row

Otago's Courtney Duncan (Kawasaki KX250F), who celebrated a successful defence of her world championship title at the weekend. Photo courtesy DRT Kawasaki.

It certainly wasn't easy and the racing went right down to the wire, but New Zealand's Courtney Duncan sensationally made it back-to-back FIM World WMX Women’s Motocross Championship title wins at the weekend.

It was an enthralling final round at Pietramurata in northern Italy as Kawasaki rider Duncan battled from behind in the points to successfully defend the title she first won for her British-based Dixon Racing Team in 2019.

After a bike-breaking crash at the third round of five in this series at Mantova, in Italy, in September, the 24-year-old from Otago turned up at the final round in Italy at the weekend four points adrift of the championship-leader, Dutch rider Nancy Van De Ven.

Probably destined never to race a WMX event on home turf, Duncan has throughout her career battled against the odds in hostile territory and been forced to dig deep and be strong in the face of adversity. She again rose to the challenge at the weekend.

Duncan immediately stamped her authority on the event by claiming pole position in qualifying but a tangle in turn one sent the Kiwi crashing to the ground and she was forced to rejoin the race in last position.

Duncan began an inspiring charge through the entire field and, remarkably, she was up to third position by the end of lap four.

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Despite still being a long way behind the race leaders, Duncan persevered and, just past the half-distance in the 20-minutes-plus-two-lap race, she moved into second place.

Duncan was still 20 seconds behind the leader, Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier, but she refused to give up and eventually jumped into the lead as Papenmeier crumbled under the pressure and Duncan took a thrilling win by just two seconds from the German.

The last-gasp win gave Duncan turned over the points deficit and she was now five points ahead of Van De Ven in the championship chase with just one race to go.

A sensible, no-risk approach to the final race earned Duncan a third placing and, with that, she won the world title for 2020.

Duncan and Van De Ven were equal on points at the end of the series on Sunday, but Duncan was awarded the title on the "count-back rule", Duncan recording five races win to the Dutch rider's three.

It was not only her second consecutive world title with Kawasaki but also her 14th career GP victory from 25 starts in this competition.

"It’s just an unbelievable feeling right now," said Duncan afterwards.

"I dreamt of these days when I was a kid; I’ve worked 15 years of my life for moments like this. This year has been so full of uncertainties with the COVID-19 (pandemic) and our own challenges, like the crash in Mantova. When I got back to my bike and the handlebars were snapped, it felt as though the championship was gone in the blink-of-an-eye and I’m so proud with how we fought back, stayed positive and confident to come out on top for a second year."

Results and Standings:

WMX - Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:

1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:42.933; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:02.040; 3. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:20.444; 4. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:31.301; 5. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:34.235; 6. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +1:04.764; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +1:17.156; 8. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), +1:34.392; 9. Sandra Keller (SUI, KTM), +1:36.965; 10. Francesca Nocera (ITA, Yamaha), +1:39.420.

WMX - Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:

1. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), 25:49.193; 2. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:01.717; 3. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), +0:07.334; 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:19.615; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:29.625; 6. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:43.146; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +1:02.697; 8. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), +1:28.194; 9. Francesca Nocera (ITA, Yamaha), +1:30.185; 10. Malou Jakobsen (DEN, KTM), +1:45.525.

WMX - Overall Top 10 Classification:

1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 45 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 41 p.; 3. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 40 p.; 4. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 37 p.; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 36 p.; 6. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 33 p.; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 28 p.; 8. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), 26 p.; 9. Francesca Nocera (ITA, YAM), 23 p.; 10. Sandra Keller (SUI, KTM), 21 p.

WMX - Championship Top 10 Classification:

1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 207 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 207 p.; 3. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 200 p.; 4. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 193 p.; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 164 p.; 6. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 135 p.; 7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 121 p.; 8. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 114 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 94 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O'Hare (AUS, KTM), 91 p.

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

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