Duncan intent on retaining title

Dunedin-based double women’s motocross world champion Courtney Duncan returns to Europe on Monday...
Dunedin-based double women’s motocross world champion Courtney Duncan returns to Europe on Monday aiming for her third consecutive world title. PHOTO: ODT ARCHIVES
Two-time women’s motocross world champion Courtney Duncan is primed and ready to make it a three-peat as she heads back to Europe for the 2021 race season early next week.

Poised, focused and fit, the 25-year-old, who is based in Dunedin, has fought her way through the school of hard knocks and is an extremely different athlete from the teenager who first began her international campaign in 2016.

“I’ve learned mainly through experience, and I look back on those years and analyse what I could’ve done to be better," she said.

"I’m always aiming to make a 10% improvement annually and I know the areas to work on.”

Duncan overcame a trio of tough seasons before changing brands and teams to sign with Kawasaki’s Dixon Racing Team in 2019.

That year she achieved the goal she had been targeting since she was a young Kiwi kid ripping around her family’s paddock motocross track.

Not content to tick the box once, she defended her title amid the Covid-19 disruptions of last year.

No prizes for guessing what is at the top of her 2021 hit list.

“I’ve got to be honest: my goal is to be world champion three years running.

"However, every year is different and brings different challenges. For me it's important to stay present and enjoy the process day to day — not look too far afield — and hopefully the results will follow.

“I’ll do what I need to do in the weeks leading into the first round at Loket at the end of July.

"We will be giving it our best shot,” Duncan said of how she has mapped out her title defence over the five 2021 WMX Grand Prix rounds, which span 14 weeks and are hosted by five countries.

Based with her Dixon Racing Team in England over the next four months, and riding the Kawasaki 2021 KX250, Duncan will have some stiff competition.

Six-time world champ Italian Kiara Fontanesi returns, racing under a new brand and Dutchwoman Nancy Van de Ven, who chased Duncan right to the very last 2020 race, is back and riding for a new team.

Duncan is ready for them.

“I’ve planned my campaign for this year and I feel like my build-up has gone as well as I could’ve hoped.

"I’ve been working super hard and some solid bike time has me feeling really good on the bike."

Grunt work in the gym, cardio sessions and regular physiotherapy maintenance also has her fighting fit off the bike.

Racing last year in the KawiGirls Kings and Queens Motocross event, plus several appearances at local South Island meetings, means that Duncan has had a chance to replicate race scenarios.

“It’s good to give back to the New Zealand motocross community. There’s some young talent coming through and that keeps me on my toes.

"It’s been six months since I raced on the international stage, though, and I miss that intensity.”

She does not have long to wait, as the first WMX round is scheduled for the Czech Republic on July 24.

Kawasaki New Zealand managing director Shane Verhoeven said while the brand loved having Courtney on home soil "making race appearances up and down the country, we’re even more excited to see her head back to Europe to defend her world title for a second time".

“Courtney is doing exceptional things to raise the profile of motocross in New Zealand and abroad."

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