Is this finally year things go Duncan's way?

Palmerston motocross rider Courtney Duncan, at Titri Park, near Waihola, in January. Photo by...
Motocross rider Courtney Duncan. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
New team. New bike. New luck. That is the plan for Courtney Duncan.

The 23-year-old Dunedin motorcross rider has been dubbed the unluckiest sportswoman in Otago and probably New Zealand after three desperately unfortunate attempts to win the Women's Motocross World Championship.

We all know the story by now. Injuries, stray photographers and a contentious jury decision have all conspired to deny the fastest female rider in the world the title she has worked so hard to claim.

But her luck might be about to turn.

One of her major rivals will miss the opening round in the Netherlands this weekend.

Defending champion and six-time winner Kiara Fontanesi will not be lining up for the event. The Italian rider has been dealing with health complications for the past 18 months and is skipping round one following medical advice.

Fontanesi is one of the few riders on the circuit who does not lose sight of Duncan.

Dutch rider Nancy van de Ven and German Larissa Papenmeier finished second and third in the championship last year and shape as Duncan's strongest competition again.

Duncan has been too fast for both when she has been fit or able to stay upright. But the Palmerston flyer may not be at her best early on.

She has only been back on the bike for a couple of months following an extensive rehabilitation programme to heal a ligament in her foot. The injury forced her out of the final two rounds last season and cost her the championship title.

She was holding a dominant 21-point advantage at the time, having collected five wins in eight races.

Duncan is now racing for British Kawasaki's Bike It Dixon Racing Team on a KX250.

She has moved from her base in Belgium to the United Kingdom and is reportedly loving her new bike and has settled in well in England.

It is understood Duncan's decision to part ways with Yamaha Josh Coppins Racing team was down to the fact she felt she would be better supported in her goal of winning the championship.

The women's championship is staged over just five events in five months, whereas the men have 19 events on a hectic schedule.

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