Duncan fired up for double-header

Dunedin's double motocross world champion gives the impression of having an increasingly wise head on her shoulders as she approaches a Turkish double-header.

Courtney Duncan. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Courtney Duncan. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Courtney Duncan will race twice tonight (New Zealand time) at the clay-based Afyonkarahisar circuit and, on the same track, at a separate round on Tuesday.

Following a four-week training block, she is fit and fired up to chase down the new series leader, Shana Van Der Vlist, of the Netherlands.

Defending champion Duncan is only two points adrift and has many positives on her side heading into these third and fourth rounds.

Despite relinquishing the No1 rider’s red plate on her least familiar surface of Belgian sand in July, Duncan (25) did not beat herself up, or throw herself straight into a punishing riding regime.

Instead, she took a week off.

‘‘I recharged the batteries, regrouped and reflected on the first few races — what went well and what needs improving,’’ Duncan said.

‘‘I took a break before I hit the next [training] block.’’

Her four days a week on the bike, combined with an intensive High Performance New Zealand-assisted off-track fitness programme, have been finely honed into what she knows works.

‘‘I’ve been doing this for a while now and a lot relates back to experience.

‘‘I know what needs to be done because I’ve made mistakes along the way and learned from them.’’

The Turkish MXGP round held a special place in her heart as it was where she went 1-1 and clinched her first world championship in 2019.

However, Duncan was looking to the future.

‘‘Yes, there’s good memories from the past and they were great at the time.

‘‘Honestly there’s no thoughts about that because they are all in the present and moving forward.

‘‘I’m starting from scratch.’’

Travelling with her Bike It MTX Kawasaki team from its English base to Turkey this week, Duncan left a country where ‘‘everything is back running’’, she said.

England has changed markedly from when she flew over from New Zealand last September to resume her title defence, after the MXGP calendar was interrupted by Covid-19.

The country was still in the pandemic’s grip then, but ‘‘everyone is getting on with life now’’, she said.

‘‘It’s good to be back living in normality.

‘‘There’s a different vibe and different feel about it compared to last year.’’

Duncan had been in regular touch with her family and friends back home, especially since New Zealand went back into Level 4 lockdown.

While she sympathised with their situation, she was grateful to have the freedom to do what she loved on the other side of the world.

She was also keeping her focus firmly on what was in front of her.

‘‘I’ve got a job to do here — win this championship. My mind is over here.’’

  • MXGP-TV.com livestreams the MXGP of Turkey. Duncan’s two round three races are at 10.55pm and 1am (New Zealand time).

- By Catherine Pattison

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