COURTNEY DUNCAN IS A FOUR-TIME WMX WORLD CHAMPION.
What an incredible season it has been for Big Van World MTX Kawasaki’s Courtney Duncan who claimed her fourth WMX World title. The Kiwi came back to the top following a dominant season that saw her display all her talent to rise in front of the likes of Daniela Guillen and Lotte Van Drunen.
Duncan began riding motocross at the age of seven, after being introduced to it by her stepfather, and spent as much time as she could after school and on weekends at her own little track in her garden. Duncan made her debut in the WMX Championship in Qatar in 2016 and went on to win two convincing races, propelling her to the top of the podium on her debut. With five race wins and three Grand Prix triumphs to her name, she took fifth place in the standings at the end of the season.
In 2017, she came back to give it her all once again, and after a thrilling season-long battle with Kiara Fontanesi and Livia Lancelot, Duncan came in third place despite missing two rounds and was only two points short of winning the championship. She returned a year later in 2018, however this time she missed the final two vital rounds of the campaign which ended her ambition of becoming champion just yet.
2019 was the year of the consecration for the Kiwi who completely dominated the season with an eye-watering 9 wins out of 10 races, only to miss out on the perfect score at the opening round in Valkenswaard after a crash costing her a podium. She went on to win the WMX Championship with a 30-point lead over the Dutch rider, Nancy Van De Ven.
In 2020, her second title was one that she had to dig deep. After very competitive season, four frontrunners were separated by only 10 points going into the last round with Nancy Van De Ven, Larissa Papenmeier, Courtney Duncan and Kiara Fontanesi.Despite a bad start in the opening race, Duncan managed to fight her way through to take the win while she finished third in the second heat. At the end of the day two riders were tied for the Championship Title, Duncan and Van De Ven. The Title was then decided by race wins and it was Duncan with five races victories over Van De Ven’s three who lifted the crown for the second year in a row.
In 2021, Duncan entered the season with the mission to go for her third title. She won the first round with a perfect 1-1 to start from the best of ways although she then missed on the podium in the second round, losing her Red Plate to Shana van der Vlist. It then ensued a strong battle and a give and take with Kiara Fontanesi over the double header in Turkiye. Following another win in Spain, Duncan entered the final round in Trentino with a 16-point advantage over home hero Kiara Fontanesi who was keen on going for her seventh world title in front of the Italian crowd. While Fontanesi took a bad start and finished 15th, which blew her chances in the Championship, Duncan finished third to secured the 2021 World Title and become a three-time World Champion.
On the back of a frustrating 2022 campaign that was hindered by injuries, the 2023 Women’s Motocross World Championship began in Sardinia for Duncan who rode well to get a good third place overall on the first round. She then took it up a notch to get a good grasp in the Championship as she went on to win the second round in Switzerland with a solid 1-2. From then on, the New Zealander made sure to be the main performer of the season as she went on to win the next four races in Spain and France with two perfect victories increasing her lead in the Championship to 20 points on the consistent Daniela Guillen.
Following a long break in the shoes of the solid Red Plate, the penultimate round in The Netherlands were somewhat of an unexpected one for Duncan who saw her perfect podium ratio stopped with a frustrating 4thplace overall. In the meantime, her closest rivals, Guillen and Lotte Van Drunen rode amazingly as the Rookie Van Drunen won her first Overall round of her young career on home soil with a perfect 1-1. Guillen on the other hand, continued her strong outings to get the second place on the podium and reduced the gap with Duncan to 16 points.
Coming into the last round of the season at Afyonkarahisar in Turkiye, Duncan had the advantage in the Championship as she was leading Guillen by 16 points and Lotte Van Drunen by 23 points but could not lose any focus in these last two races to get her hands on the mighty trophy.
Duncan showed straight from the first race in Turkiye that she was determined to leave nothing to chance as she displayed all her talent to get in front on the opening lap to fly to a dominant victory. The future Champion stroke a big blow to the confidence of her closest rivals as she virtually had one hand on the Title. All she needed in Race 2 to lift the crown was a P.17 or better. However, the extreme stormy weather conditions falling on Afyon on Saturday evening made the track very difficult to manage and challenging for all the riders in the second race.
In those conditions, the most important for Duncan was to not lose focus for a second during the entire race and stay on two wheels due to the constant roost coming from the rear wheel of the bike in front and the treacherous terrain. That is where all her experience came into play with a solid start that saw Duncan going into third position and began to manage the race beautifully. With competition in her blood, the champion-to-be was not ready to settle patiently for third as she still managed to make an excellent pass to move up second on lap five. From then on, Duncan managed to safely stay out of danger to bring it home in second place to clinch her fourth title and secure the 2023 Women’s Motocross World Championship.
What a success story it has been for Courtney Duncan, Kawasaki Motors Europe and Team Big Van World MTX who have together clinched four individual WMX World Titles over the last five years and three Manufacturers’ World Titles. The incredible stats do not stop there as the 27-years-old from the South Island of New Zealand has throughout her career won an impressive 23 overall rounds out of 40 and 42 race wins out of 80.
Courtney Duncan will now be able to enjoy this incredible year and celebrate it surrounded by her family who made the long journey to come and support her in Turkiye. While a well-deserved break now awaits the four-time World Champion, one thing is sure, it’s that the Kiwi rider will start soon to look and work towards next season as she is determined to keep winning and increased her already incredibly successful career.
Courtney Duncan: “ What a season, honestly! Four overall round wins and a fourth WMX World Title. I was not too stressed today; I knew what I needed to do and I know how to ride mud. Anything can happen in these conditions but I got a good start and just stayed upright. The conditions were difficult and slippery but it was the same for everyone and I ran it home in second; that was enough for the overall victory and the championship. It’s been a really good season with four round wins and we were really consistent; for sure it’s a challenge when there are such long breaks between some races after you have started to build momentum but we kept our focus. I feel like we definitely stepped it up this year and my Kawasaki KX250 never missed a beat. This title means so much to me; the first one in 2019 was a sigh of relief, getting the monkey off my back, but I got knocked down last year with my injury and I really wanted to raise the bar this year. It took a lot of hard work but my mom’s here this weekend for the first time and to experience one with her is very special so first we’ll enjoy this one and then we’ll start to work for the next one!“