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Kiwi Girl Extends World Championship Lead


29 Mar 2016

South Islander Courtney Duncan remains top of the Women's Motocross World Championship standings after another impressive performance, this time at round two of the series in The Netherlands overnight.

The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider from Palmerston, Otago, stunned the international motocross community when she scored back-to-back wins at the night-time opener in Qatar in February and she could therefore not rely on the element of surprise in The Netherlands.

She was no longer an "unknown rookie" when she headed to the deep Dutch sand circuit at Valkenswaard at the weekend and was soon showing she'd again be a threat to win the GP overall when she clocked the fastest lap in timed practice, circulating nearly a second quicker than Italy's defending world champion Kiara Fontanesi.

For her first of two WMX races on Sunday (NZ time) Duncan was looking strong until a massive crash sent her tumbling to the ground. She collected her wits and, with bent handlebars and no front brakes, she battled on to eventually finish the race in fourth position, behind Dutch Yamaha rider Nancy Van De Ven, Fontanesi (Honda) and French former women's world champion Livia Lancelot (Kawasaki).

"It was a pretty decent crash but I didn't give up," said Duncan afterwards.

"Racing at Valkenswaard was completely different to New Zealand sand. It's hard to explain. You really need to be here and experience it to know what it's actually like.

"I struggled in race one and just didn't gel."

But the best was yet to come from the Kiwi heroine.

Duncan took the lead right from the start and was 13 seconds ahead of Lancelot after five laps.

With Duncan averaging a lap time three seconds quicker than the next best rider, the gap at the front grew steadily.

She was 19 seconds ahead of Lancelot after eight laps and 22 seconds ahead after 10 laps.

By the time the chequered flag came out, Duncan was a massive 25 seconds ahead of runner-up Lancelot and half a lap ahead of the third-placed rider, race one winner Van De Ven.

Although Van De Ven was credited with the GP win overall, her 1-3 results marginally better than Duncan's 4-1 score-card, the Kiwi rider still managed to extend her overall championship lead. Duncan has improved from six points ahead of Lancelot to seven points, with Van De Ven three points further back in third.

"Race two was a lot better we made a few changes to the suspension and it was a lot better," said Duncan.

"Also, I had a good flow and didn't make any mistakes and came away with a decent size gap which was nice way to finish the weekend.

"All in all, it wasn't too bad as I extended my points lead here this weekend.

"I fly out and straight back to New Zealand, straight to Nelson to prepare for (the next round in) Germany.

"It was good having (Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team boss) Josh Coppins here with me. He's been here and done it all before and he's won plenty of motos here, so knows how to ride it and so had a lot of advice to pass on to me."

Motueka's Coppins is a two-time former world championship runner-up.

The third of six rounds in the Women's Motocross World Championships are set for Teutschenthal, in Germany, on May 8. Rounds follow in France (June 5) and Switzerland (August 7), before it all wraps up at Assen, in The Netherland again, on August 28.

The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, Fox Racing, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Fulton Hogan, Pirelli, FMF, DID, NGK, Matrix, Renthal, Motomuck, Workshop Graphics, Motoseat, Hammerhead, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics, Etnies, Biketranz and Fulton Hogan.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan,