20 June 2018:
Kiwi rider Altherm JCR Yamaha's Courtney Duncan has extended her lead in the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship this weekend at Italy's Ottobiano circuit and now holds a dominant 21-point advantage over her nearest rival.
The racing in this fourth round spanned across Saturday and Sunday with technical, sandy, and hot conditions, which saw temperatures reach up to 30degC.
The spectator hill alongside the circuit was full of passionate, cheering fans both days adding to the drama of the intense battles. For 22-year-old Duncan it was indeed tight racing, where her 2-2 score card saw her only miss out on what would have been her third consecutive set of double wins by under 1sec each race.
Saturday’s Race 1 was led by Germany's Larissa Papenmeier but she was closely followed by Italian rider Kiara Fontanesi on her home track. Duncan was third and the Netherland's Nancy van de Ven was right behind. At the end of the second lap however it was Fontanesi who took the lead from Papenmeier.
Duncan fell early in the race and had to work her way back forward but by lap nine was closing on Van de Ven, who felt the pressure and pushed to second in an attempt to use Papenmeier as a buffer. Duncan showed her world-class grit and determination and not only passed Papenmeier but also found her way around Van de Ven. The charging Kiwi then stormed up to the leader Fontanesi and made a pass but the Italian was able to retake the spot then take the race win over Duncan, Van de Ven, and Papenmeier.
Dunedin's Duncan is fiercely competitive and never happy with second best but she conceded that the most important job at this later stage of the championship is to protect and grow her points.
"Italy was not my best weekend. First moto I made a small mistake on the opening laps which made me really have to work for it. I made my way back to second right behind the leader. It was frustrating because I felt I let that win slip away but we didn’t give up and limited the points damage, so from that side I’m happy," Duncan says.
Sunday’s Race 2 was the first event on the track and while temperatures in general where higher that day, the earlier timing of the race helped keep the women cool. When the gate fell it was again Papenmeier who rocketed off of the start with all the contenders just behind.
Papenmeier had Duncan chasing her along with Van de Ven and Fontanesi in the top four on the first lap. The three Yamaha riders pursued the Suzuki of Papenmeier for the first five laps then all three were able to shift the German back on lap six.
With Van de Ven in the lead, Duncan kept applying the pressure and drove the pair forward, creating a gap over Fontanesi and Papenmeier. Duncan was unable to pass Van de Ven in the end as she took the race win with Duncan second, Fontanesi third and Papenmeier fourth.
Duncan says there are areas she will look to improve on over the long break until round five in the Netherlands on September 16.
"Moto two we were up first thing so the track was completely flat and very fast which didn’t favour me but no excuses. It shows I need to be better in the easier conditions and really work on my intensity in the first half of the race, as I feel like those are two of my weak points at the moment."
"However 2-2 on a difficult weekend we can be happy with and actually I extended my lead from 15 points to 21 in the standings, so from a championship perspective that’s a real positive. Obviously we can be better but I like the position I’m in and excited about the final two rounds," Duncan says.
Duncan's Altherm JCR Yamaha coach and team manager Josh Coppins was surprised by the Italian track's composition.
"We prepared for a sand track like it was last year. But it was much harder this year than we expected," Coppins says.
He was impressed with Duncan's race craft, which he credits for her commanding lead in the championship in what is her third season of racing at the top international level.
"Both motos she only lost by around a second. She's disappointed of course after coming off wins but she rode well. She rode smart and controlled her championship," Coppins says.
WORDS: Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing media
21st April 2018:
Flying Kiwi Courtney Duncan has continued to dominate the FIM Women’s Motocross Championship (WMX), confidently notching up her second consecutive set of double race wins on the world stage this weekend and considerably extending her lead in the series.
After racing at the MXGP of Germany, on the hills of Teutschenthal, in what was the half-way point of the six-round championship, Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Duncan now leads her nearest competitor Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier by an impressive 15-points. It is a 12-point extension on the 3-point buffer she had after the second round last month in Portugal.
After twice being denied the world title due to circumstances out of her control over the past two years, Otago’s Duncan made sure she rode smart and demonstrated her ability to control the lead, securing assertive wins in both races.
“I’m really happy again with the weekend. Another 1-1 performance here in Germany. Obviously we cannot get any better than that points-wise,” Duncan says.
In the first race on Saturday, although Duncan took the holeshot, she settled in behind defending WMX champion Yamaha’s Kiara Fontanesi, of Italy. Duncan chased her hard, often closing in on her rival as they battled through lapped traffic but waiting for the right moment to pull off her pass.
“I wasn’t really willing to push it on the first few laps. The track was difficult in its own ways. It was very hard to pass and rock hard. It took me a while to find my flow,” Duncan says.
At one point, the fiercely-competitive New Zealander considered protecting her points and accepting a second place.
“Then I was like ‘nah we are going to go for it’. I still felt good enough to win,” she says.
Duncan made a quick pass with two laps to go and was able to pull a 6.9sec lead by the race end, with third-placed Nancy Van De Ven languishing 24.6secs back. Duncan collected the winner’s 25 points and then set out to perfect her winning formula in race two.
Fittingly, that evening she was named Motorcycling New Zealand’s 2017 Female Rider of the Year at a function in Queenstown. Although Duncan was obviously unable to attend the awards ceremony, she proved she is the fastest motocross woman in the world on Sunday in Deutschland.
“I took the holeshot and just rode smart to bring it home and was able to pull a 15-second lead on Kiara in the end, so that was cool. I’m really happy to come out of here having extended out my points lead in the championship,” Duncan says.
Her Altherm JCR Yamaha team manager Josh Coppins was unable to attend this round but from his Motueka base he was delighted with how the weekend panned out for Duncan.
“She pretty much dominated both races. Courtney has really improved on how to lead the race and control the race. We saw her progression already in [the previous WMX round) Portugal and even right from the opening round in Italy,” Coppins says.
“It’s been a really successful weekend to take it from 3 to 15 points. Courtney’s in a really good place. She’s getting more confident at leading a race and knowing when to push and not to push. She seems very relaxed and comfortable in her surroundings and with the way things are going,” Coppins adds.
Duncan’s 15-point lead in the championship is over Papenmeier with Fontanesi and Van De Ven 22 points behind, tied in third place.
From her European base in Belgium, Duncan will compete in a French motocross race in a fortnight and get stuck into her sand training for the soft surface of the WMX’s round four in Ottobiano, Italy on June 16 and 17.
She plans to just focus on each round as it plays out.
“We are halfway through the championship and have got three rounds to go. I’ll just continue to do what I do and take each race as it comes. It’s a lot of training and a lot of races and anything can happen. Now we get stuck into some sand which I’m super excited for,” Duncan says.
“I couldn’t do what I do without my Altherm JCR Yamaha team and my mechanic Bjorn, who works super-hard,” she adds.
WORDS: Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing media
17 April 2018:
Courtney Duncan Takes the Lead
Kiwi girl Courtney Duncan has shown the world how it’s done, winning both races in the Portuguese round of the FIM Women’s Motocross Championship and taking the overall points lead this weekend.
The 22-year-old Altherm JCR rider from Palmerston, Otago, demonstrated her pure race class over the two days on changing conditions, from a rutted and technical track on Saturday to a soft and tricky surface on Sunday.
“It was a really good weekend and I’m stoked with how it ended up. I was on pole in qualifying then was able to go 1-1 in both races,” an elated Duncan says.
They were only the second set double wins in her international career and it has been two years since she last notched up two victories at the same race meeting.
They were particularly satisfying as the red soil of the Agueda circuit, turned it all on in terms of testing the riders.
“It was really tricky conditions out there and both races were completely different. One was heaps of ruts and really technical and the second moto was really muddy, as we got rain in the night, which made for tough conditions out there this morning. So to come away with two wins and the championship lead is super rewarding,” Duncan says.
She had taken the fastest lap of time practice and then carried her speed forward in the first race, taking the holeshot off the start and never looking back. Behind Duncan was the Netherlands’ Nancy Van De Ven for every lap of the 11-lap race.
At the finish Duncan beat Van De Ven by 13.9 secs and Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier took third.
Duncan’s Altherm JCR Yamaha team manager Josh Coppins says his rider had pulled out a 20sec lead but backed it off at the finish.
“I feel like she has matured a lot and is starting to understand how to control and manage the race and has a better understanding of how to control the lead.”
In race 2 Papenmeier shot into the lead ahead of reigning world champion Kiara Fontanesi, of Italy. After the first lap, Duncan made it past Fontanesi for second and had her eyes set on Papenmeier. On the fifth lap of ten, Duncan made a pass stick for first position, opening a gap over Papenmeier and the rest, eventually crossing the line 8.7secs ahead of second.
Duncan’s double race wins not only gave her the overall win but also the championship leader’s red plate by 3 points over Papenmeier and 10 points over Van De Ven, with Fontanesi languishing 16 points behind.
Coppins was thrilled with the way Duncan rode this weekend.
“To go 1-1 that’s only her second-ever double win and it’s been two years between them,” he says.
With four WMX rounds left, having the red plate early on places Duncan in solid contention for her maiden world championship title, Coppins says.
“Her speed has always been great. I feel like we are starting to make more progress in that area and it’s showing in the results and putting her in a good place.”
Duncan will race in the Germany WMX round in in five weekends time and will keep her race eye in by competing in a French championship race this weekend.
As she travelled back to her Belgium base after racing, Duncan had some words of gratitude to send home.
“I want to thank my team, sponsors and everyone who supports me.”
Words: Catherine Pattison - Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing media
The Altherm JCR Yamaha team riders had a mixed bag of results at the rescheduled third round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships in Hawkes Bay.
Promising Mangakino youngster Maximus Purvis continued his success in the National 125cc class, winning the round and heading into the final races next weekend with a comfortable and commanding 15-point lead over Australian Mason Semmens.
With 1-1-2 finishes in the three races at the Ngaruroro Raceway, in Hastings, Purvis was the team’s best-placed rider.
Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont had a day that “went from good to bad” in the MX1 class, he says.
“The first race I got the holeshot, which made life easy, and I won it.”
The next two races, he struggled with the wet, muddy track conditions, crashing his Yamaha YZ450 several times and finishing 6th and 10th respectively.
Lamont (24) reluctantly relinquished the lead on the championship to Australian rider Kirk Gibbs. He is now sitting six points adrift in second but the former national MX2 champion is determined to reverse that result next Saturday.
“We are pretty close still and Taupo is my home track as well, so I should have a good chance of hauling Kirk in there,” Lamont, who originally hails from Mangakino, says.
Coppins was confident it would all come together for his team next weekend.
“Kayne won at Taupo in October at the MX Fest and we are still in with a good chance with him. The best case scenario is we take two titles with him and Maximus and a round win with Jay.”
Live streaming is available for the fourth and final round at www.mnz.co.nz
JOSH COPPINS RACING TEAM CONTINUES TO SHINE!
The Josh Coppins Racing team have had a strong start to the New Zealand season with both Kane Lamont and Maximus Purvis leading the in their respective fields.
Lamont had a strong performance in the MX1 class at “ asdfdsf” in Woodville, where he was able to take the win in the “akjfhd”. He was able to back this up with another big effort in the opening round of this seasons New Zealand Motocross Champs, where he managed to win all three races to take a 15 point lead over second placed and defending champ, Cody Cooper.
Purvis also kicked of his season with a bang, the 17 year old who competes in the 125cc class was able to string together a near perfect 1-1-2 out of his three races putting him narrowly in front of 2nd place Mason Semmens.
Both riders will look to strengthen their leads in the 2nd round at Rotorua on the 25th of February.
DUNCAN TAKES BRONZE!
Courtney Duncan came into the sixth and final round of the Women’s Motocross World Championship just two points behind the series leader Nancy Van de Ven, and in a great position to take out the Championship.
She was in a commanding lead in race one, 20 seconds in front of the nearest contender, when on the final lap she got caught up in a collision with a group of racers in the previous lap to herself. This set back proved costly and resulted in Duncan finishing up in 6th place, 9 points behind Van de Ven.
Duncan bounced back on day two to dominate the field taking a 46 second win over the rest of the field. This unfortunately was still not enough to take the series, and she picked up the bronze an agonisingly close two points behind Van de Ven.
Although not the ideal outcome, bronze is still a monumental achievement and no doubt next year Duncan will be back all the better for the experience and hungry to make it to the top!
Her off season will consist of a lot of rest and recovery, she has already under gone a surgery to repair her ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and will be recovering for next four to five months.
DUNCAN BOUNCES BACK!
Courtney Duncan has taken her spot back on top of the Women Motocross World Championship standings, after a fantastic weekend of racing in the Czech Republic.
She came into the weekends racing sitting in third position overall, seven points off former world champion Kiara Fontanesi, but quickly righted the ship with a win in the first race. Duncan put in a gritty performance, coming from eight position to fight her way up and snatch the lead with just two corners to go.
She was unable to repeat the previous day’s performance in race two, taking fall which set her off the pace set by KTM’s Amadine Verstappen, who eventually went on to win the race. She was still able to pick herself up and hold on to a very respectable second place.
This result topped off a fantastic weekend of racing for Duncan. Coach Josh Coppins heaped on the praise for her performance stating that “she rode smart and was patient and was rewarded for that”. Duncan now sits 3 points clear of Fontanesi in second and defending world champion Livia Lancelot who is sitting 7 points back in third.
The hard work is far from over for Duncan however, as she begins to prepare for the fifth round, the Dutch GP at Assen, in the Netherlands on September 10.
DUNCAN CONTINUES TO SHINE