Duncan looking to future after missing title

Courtney Duncan
Courtney Duncan
Otago motocross rider Courtney Duncan has put the disappointment of missing out on the world title behind her and hopes to ride with more consistency next season.

The 21-year-old from Palmerston came agonisingly close to achieving her goal of claiming the motocross world championship title but had to settle for third overall.

The Belgium-based rider’s title prospects slipped away late in the first race of the  final round in France when she  hit a fence after trying to avoid a crash involving five riders.

She had a 15-second lead at the time but got stuck in the fence and eventually finished in sixth place.

Officials initially decided to award points based on the placings at the start of the last lap, which would have seen Duncan win the race, but reversed their decision.

Duncan responded by winning the final race of the season and told the Otago Daily Times she was devastated at the time but has moved on.

"The drive back to Belgium was a quiet one as I was super gutted," Duncan said in an email.

"However, I turned the page very quickly. There’s no point in hanging your head low. I’m already focused and have my sights set on the future."

Duncan, who returns to New Zealand towards the end of the month, struck bad luck during her rookie season in 2016 when she  ran into a photographer who had strayed too close to the track. While she showed the pace to win the world championship, she was far from pleased with how she had performed across the season.

"To be honest, it’s been terrible.

"The whole year felt like a battle. Nothing went right for me at the races, so that was just so frustrating.

"I felt like I was in some of my best form of my career during the week ... then the weekends were just bad — so far off my potential and what I know I’m capable of.

"So obviously I have parts around that that need to be fixed. But, in saying that, I was still winning races in that form so it brings a lot of confidence."

Despite demanding more of herself, Duncan feels she is a much better rider for the experience.

"Every year I feel like I get better. You’re gaining experience which is a big thing and something money can’t buy.

"I’m learning new things every day at the practice tracks and at the races so it only helps in moving forward."

Duncan had surgery on a knee complaint straight after the season which finished in mid September. The recovery time is four  to five months, so her immediate focus in on her rehabilitation.

"When I’m given the OK to start, I’ll be working on that daily. Then I’ll also be hitting the cycle and swimming pool hard, building my base fitness up and getting ready to jump back on the bike."

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