Courtney Duncan loses WMX lead

Rough weekend for the Kiwi Girl in France

MXFonta Yamaha Official WMX’s Kiara Fontanesi now leads the 2017 FIM WMX World Championship by 1 point after landing on the third step of the podium in Round 3 which took place last weekend at Ernée, France. NoFear Yamaha Official WMX’s Nancy van de Ven went 2 – 4 for second overall, while Altherm Yamaha Official WMX’s Courtney Duncan lost the championship lead after an enormous crash put her out of Race 1. The hearty New Zealander bounced back in Race 2 with an emphatic win, and has now won the most amount of races this season (three).

When the gates dropped with a thud on Saturday afternoon NoFear Yamaha Official WMX’s Nancy Van de Ven took the holeshot ahead of Larissa Papenmier and fellow YZ250F riding starlets Altherm Yamaha Official WMX’s Courtney Duncan and FontaMX Yamaha Official WMX’s Kiara Fontanesi. Fontanesi was the first rider to dump the clutch and twist the throttle as she charged past Duncan for third and applied pressure to Papenmier who eventually made a mistake and handed both Yamaha riders a position.

Fast from the very start, Duncan soon found her lines and passed both Fontanesi and Van de Ven on the same lap. The ‘Kiwi Girl’ – as her butt patch reads – is determined to raise the bar in women’s motocross, and despite already having the race lead and the red plate, continued to push her own limits.

There is a fine line between riding on the limit and going over it, as Duncan found out. The New Zealander tucked the front and crashed. She made a fast remount, and crossed the Finish Line for lap six in second place, hot on the heels of van de Ven. Despite having five laps remaining, she was eager to reclaim the lead as soon as possible and she opted to take the inside line on a corner that she typically went outside. The exit of the corner led into a jump that had a steep down ramp. She came up short, and sideways, and was slammed to the ground faster than she could blink.

Courtney Duncan

After landing heavily on her back, Duncan was taken to the medical center for precautionary checks, while van de Ven tried to keep Fontanesi at bay. With two laps to go, the animated crowd were on the edge of their seats as van de Ven, Fontanesi and the defending champion Livia Lancelot battled for the lead.

Fontanesi, who is looking stronger than ever, ripped around the outside of van de Ven but bounced out of a rut two turns later and fell. Van de Ven took the lead back only to lose it again at the last minute to Lancelot who went on to win the opening race.

In the second race, which took place on Sunday morning, it was Yamaha’s very own holeshot queen – van de Ven – that led the Race 1 winner – Lancelot – around turn one.

After her insanely big crash on Saturday, the fans were surprised to see the brave ‘Kiwi Girl’ line up for Race 2 on Sunday. Being the soldier she is, she put all the pain and discomfort she was experiencing to one side and charged her way from fifth place forward to win the final race of the weekend ahead of Lancelot – the eventual grand prix winner.

Van de Ven dropped back to fourth which paired with her second place in Race 1 was enough to stand on the second step of the podium. The podium was rounded off by Fontanesi who went 4 – 3 for third.

With Altherm Yamaha’s Courtney Duncan taking no points in the opening race, FontaMX Yamaha’s Kiara Fontanesi has taken over the red plate. The Italian starlet now leads the WMX World Championship by 1 point over the Livia Lancelot. Duncan is now 7 points down, in third. The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place at Loket, in the Czech Republic.

Euros take out Glen Helen glory

Honda riders couldn’t stop the onslaught of the Euros at the latest round AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Glen Helen.

Marvin Musquin pulled the holeshot in the first 450 moto and put on an impressive ride aboard his KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition. He stayed strong and held the lead the entire race, eventually crossing the finish line first by over eight seconds to earn his first career outdoor 450 moto win.

He started in the top-10 in the second 450 moto and was sixth by the end of the first lap before making a pass in the second lap to overtake fifth. He stayed consistent in fifth before putting in a charge to claim the fourth-place spot in lap five. He moved ahead two more spots into third after another rider went down, then rode strong to finish third. The 1-3 finish gave him not only the overall victory on the day, but also the 450 points lead heading into the third round of the series held next week in Colorado.

“The goal is always to win, but Glen Helen is a unique track, Musquin said. To be able to win that first moto was incredible. I got the holeshot and rode pretty well. I stayed consistent and was able to grab my first ever outdoor 450 win. I really wanted to get a good start in the second moto, but I knew it was going to be tough. I was top-10, but wasn’t in the position to fight for the win. Blake and Jason were riding really well, but I came back to third-place. To walk away from Glen Helen with the red plate and my first 450 overall is unbelievable.”

In the 250 class, it was Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne grabbing the red plate at the famous track.

The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team battled the tough track at the Glen Helen National for the second round of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Zach Osborne claimed the overall victory in the 250 class and maintains the points lead in the class, while teammate Jason Anderson earned a career first moto win in the 450 class.

Zach Osborne was mid-pack at the start of the first 250 moto and put on a charge. He was 13th at the end of the first lap and started moving through the field. He made it up to ninth by the third lap and continued to push. He battled Alex Martin for the sixth-place spot in the fifth lap and made a successful inside pass to overtake the position before setting his sights on the front of the pack. He inherited fifth shortly after the halfway mark and stayed strong while he put on an amazing ride and put the pressure on the field ahead. He dug deep to close the gap to fourth and made a successful pass to claim the position with under a minute plus two laps to go. He closed in on the third-place spot with two laps remaining before a slight mistake put him off the track. He recovered quickly and stayed focused without losing his position to finish fourth. He was second at the start of the second 250 moto and stayed consistent to finish second. The 4-2 finish gave him the overall victory for the second consecutive week and maintains his lead in 250 rider point standings.

“Today I woke up with a little bit of a sore throat,” said Osborne, “so I was a little concerned with how the day was going to go. I didn’t get the most ideal start in the first moto, but I came from 15th up to fourth. I really focused on my start in the second moto and tried to put it up front. I just rode a smart race in second and took the overall.”

 

 450 Class Overall Results
1. Marvin Musquin, KTM (1-3)
2. Jason Anderson, HQV (5-1)
3. Blake Baggett, KTM (8-2)
4. Dean Wilson, HQV (6-7)
5. Weston Peick, SUZ (9-6)
6. Cole Seely, HON (7-8)
7. Broc Tickle, SUZ (14-4)
8. Justin Bogle, SUZ (12-5)
9. Eli Tomac, KAW (2-19)
10. Josh Grant, KAW (3-28)

250 Class Overall Results
1. Zach Osborne, HQV (4-2)
2. Jeremy Martin, HON (1-7)
3. Dylan Ferrandis, YAM (9-1)
4. Adam Cianciarulo, KAW (7-3)
5. Colt Nichols, YAM (5-4)
6. Alex Martin, KTM (6-5)
7. Aaron Plessinger, YAM (3-13)
8. Michael Mosiman, HQV (8-10)
9. Joey Savatgy, KAW (2-29)
10. Mitchell Harrison, YAM (13-8)

KIWI KTM MAN READY TO SET EUROPE ABLAZE

Waikato’s Josiah Natzke (KTM), proud to hear the New Zealand national anthem played in Latvia.

Waikato’s Josiah Natzke is ready to set Europe ablaze.

The KTM rider from Hamilton – a two-time former New Zealand 125cc senior champion, in 2014 and 2015, and a junior national champion before that – has been racing the European Motocross Championships for the past three seasons with great success, but nothing could be quite as thrilling as the Grand Prix win he celebrated in Latvia at the weekend.

The 18-year-old took his KTM250F to set the 12th fastest time in Saturday’s practice at the Latvia GP, the third round of nine in this season’s European 250cc Motocross Championships (EMX250), and he then came out swinging the following day to finish first and second in the two championship points races.

He won the GP overall and the New Zealand national anthem played out as the young Kiwi accepted the trophy for his first big win in Europe since his debut season there in the European 125cc Motocross Championships (EMX125) in 2015. 

With his win now in Latvia, Natzke has rocketed from nowhere in the EMX250 standings to 11th overall. 

Riding for a KTM satellite support team, this season had been developing as a massive test of character and resolve for Natzke, the teenager scoring points in just one of his four races before the Latvia GP – thanks to a 16th placing in one race at round two in the Netherlands in April – but now his confidence has been given a massive boost and he sees no reason why he can’t push on and claw his way into the top five overall.

“I wasn’t comfortable at all with the bike at first and I couldn’t hang on to it. But the last two or three weeks I got to do a day of testing here and there and I knew what I wanted, so it was easy to get comfortable. 

“It’s always been there. I knew how fast I was but, honestly, I just struggled to get the bike working how I wanted it to. Then, boom, as soon as I was happy with the bike, I got results. I’m on the up now.

“The next round is at Ernee (in north-western France) in three weeks. I like the French tracks, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s certainly given me some confidence, but it’s just reassurance for me that I could do it. 

“When I holeshot race one (in Latvia), I didn’t really believe it. I was sick on the sighting lap and didn’t want to race but my friend I had with me, Jordan, said just do the start and see what happens, then I holeshot and I’m like what!? I just rode a pretty easy race to be honest. I felt right back at home.

“I have no idea where I might finish in the championships now. I just want to win all the races and see where I end up, hopefully with a factory ride.

“I just need to win some more races and then see where it goes.”

Natzke could be touted as “the next big thing” to come out of New Zealand motocross, emerging from the shadows of fellow Kiwi internationals such as Taranaki’s Shayne King, Bay of Plenty’s Ben Townley and Motueka’s Josh Coppins.

Both King and Townley were racing KTM bikes when they won their respective world crowns – King winning the 500cc title in 1996 and Townley winning the MX2 title in 2004 – while Coppins was world championship runner-up on two occasions, in 2002 (250cc class) and 2005 (MX1).

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

GAUTIER PAULIN WINS MXGP OF EUROPE

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin has secured his first GP victory of the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship, claiming an emphatic opening moto win and securing a runner-up result in moto two at the MXGP of Europe in The Netherlands.

With round six of the world championship taking place at the iconic sandy track of Valkenswaard, Paulin started the GP claiming a strong third place result in the qualifying race. Getting a perfect start on his FC 450 in the opening MXGP moto, the Frenchman retained the lead from start to finish to celebrate his first moto victory aboard Husqvarna machinery.

“It’s been an amazing GP, he said. “We started off with a good pace in qualifying. I was feeling good on the bike ever since I stepped foot on this track, so I was very positive of some good results. We had a perfect opening moto. I got a clear holeshot and managed to successfully defend my lead until the finish line. Despite not getting the best of starts in moto two, I stayed focused on the goal of winning the overall. I kept pushing and as soon as I saw other riders suffering physically I gave one last push for the overall victory. I honestly have no words to thank my Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team for all their hard work and dedication. This victory has given us a big confidence boost for the races to come.”

Well-placed inside the top five at the start of moto two, Paulin showed his determination to battle for the overall victory. Making some crucial passes he managed to cross the finish line as a runner-up behind Antonio Cairoli. Completing a well-calculated GP the Frenchman gained two spots in the MXGP championship standings, where he’s now placed third behind Tim Gajser and Cairoli.

Not getting the best of starts, Paulin’s teammate, Max Nagl, pushed hard to claim 10th overall at the GP of Europe. Getting a 10th place result in the opening moto, the German wrapped up the event with 11th in moto two.

The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team will return to action at round seven of the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship in Latvia on May 6/7.

PURVIS THE “MAXIMUM MAN” AT JUNIOR NATIONALS

Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (Yamaha), the top rider at this year’s New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships in Taranaki at the weekend. 

It was certainly a maximum effort from some of the riders at this year’s annual New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships in Taranaki at the weekend.

The top three classes at the Un4seen Decals-sponsored event were all “maximums” for the winners – the title-winners in each case scoring maximum points for winning all five of their races over the two days – but it was also a maximum effort from Mangakino rider Maximus Purvis, who claimed the trophy in two separate categories and in both of them he was unbeaten, scoring maximum points.

The 16-year-old, now out of school and working as a digger driver, showed he really did know how to shift soil, winning five races from five starts in the glamour 14-16 years’ 250cc class and then doing the same in the eldest of the 125cc divisions, for riders aged 15-16 years.

He will turn 17 in September and so, as the rules demand, he will “graduate” to the senior ranks, leaving the way clear for a different rider (or perhaps two individuals) to feature next season.

But it was his weekend to savour, the slightly-built racer proving intelligence, technique and talent counts for much more that sheer muscle and brute force in this most physically-demanding of sports.

“I lost my balance and dropped the bike in the last race of the weekend, handing the lead to (Oparau’s) James Scott. If that had happened earlier in the weekend I might have just accepted that and conserved my energy for the races to follow.

But, because it was the last race, I dug deep and pushed hard, taking the lead back and claiming the win.

“My fitness is great and so riding two classes wasn’t a problem.”

It was a similar story in the 12-14 years’ 125cc class, where Dunedin’s Grason Veitch was unbeaten in his five races, and, in the 13-16 years’ 85cc class too, where Matamata’s Brodie Connolly won all his five races to claim that title.

The only categories where there was any real doubt of where the titles would end up were the 11-12 years’ 85cc class, where Rongotea’s Seth Henson had to weather a storm of attacks from Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke and Oparau’s Hunter Scott before he could finally take the title, and the 8-10 years’ 85cc class, where Taranaki’s Katriel Jones came on strong on day two of racing to snatch the title away from early championship leader Cole Davies, of Waitoki, and consistent scorer Kobe Thoms, of Leeston.

 

Leading final standings from the 2017 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships:

14-16 years’ 250cc class: 1. Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, Yamaha) 125 points (maximum); 2. Trent Collins (Ohaupo, Honda) 110; 3. Hayden Smith (Taihape, KTM) 100.

15-16 years’ 125cc class: 1. Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, Yamaha) 125 points (maximum); 2. James Scott (Oparau, KTM) 110; 3. Hayden Smith (Taihape, KTM) 98.

12-14 years’ 125cc class: 1. Grason Veitch (Dunedin, KTM) 125 points (maximum); 2. Marshall Phillips (Christchurch, Yamaha) 110; 3. Luke Van Der Lee (Te Aroha, Yamaha) 90.

13-16 years’ 85cc class: 1. Brodie Connolly (Matamata, KTM) 125 points (maximum); 2. Zack Wright (Australia, KTM) 104; 3. Thomas Watts (Wairoa, Kawasaki) 94.

11-12 years’ 85cc class: 1. Seth Henson (Rongotea, KTM) 119 points; 2. Cobie Bourke (Rangiora, KTM) 102; 3. Hunter Scott (Oparau, Husqvarna) 85.

8-10 years’ 85cc class: 1. Katriel Jones (Ngaere, Husqvarna) 119 points; 2. Kobe Thoms (Leeston, KTM) 102; 3. Cole Davies (Waitoki, KTM) 88.

The Un4seen Decals junior nationals were also supported by Alpinestars, Husqvarna, Yamaha, Ohlins suspension, Engrave It, New Plymouth Motorcycle Centre, 100 Percent and North King Country Moto-X.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com