Courtney Duncan Takes Third

JCR Yamaha’s Courtney Duncan, of Dunedin, has missed out on this year’s Women’s Motocross World Championship title but vows to be back next year. Photo credit: MXGP

Unlucky racing incident destroys Duncan’s world title dreams in France

An extremely unlucky, occurrence in the first race of the MXGP of Pays de Montbéliard – the final round of the Women’s Motocross World Championship – extinguished Courtney Duncan’s chances of a debut title this weekend.

Despite an epic comeback in the second moto where she lapped all but the second-placed rider, Duncan was forced to settle for third place in the championship.

The weekend had started positively for the Otago-based Altherm JCR Yamaha rider and she was convincingly leading the field by 15 seconds on the final lap, when she came across five riders who had crashed on the tricky hillside of the Villars sous Ecot circuit and were blocking her way.

Duncan (21) was forced to take evasive action to avoid them and swerved off the track, crashing into a fence.

Her coach Josh Coppins says initially the official verdict was positive.

“After a jury meeting immediately after the race FIM decided they would award points from the lap prior due to the track being blocked and unsafe.”

Then in a heart-breaking decision for the talented Kiwi, the jury reversed the decision, retracted the adjusted results and reinstated the original standings. This gave the top four riders fighting for the championship, the first four places, meaning Italian Kiara Fontanesi took the win, Nancy van de ven, of the Netherlands was second, and France’s Livia Lancelot third.

This left Duncan fourth in the championship and nine points off the lead going into the second race yesterday.

Coppins says it was a tough blow for Duncan, who had been in brilliant form following last weekend’s penultimate round in the Netherlands, where she finished up second in the championship points, despite managing a knee injury.

“We had a very good week you could see that in Courtney’s racing. She was around 15 seconds in the lead [in the first race this weekend]. She was the fastest and it was some of the best racing she’s done this year.”

“Walking the track on Friday we knew that some girls would not get round if it got wet and that’s what happened. Saturday was unlucky but we all know these things can happen in racing. It was unfair and it was a real shame that it impacted the championship,” Coppins says.

Duncan says that while she was devastated about the race one decision she tried to clear her headspace and demonstrate what she was capable of in the second race.

 “I tried to just stay optimistic and thought it is what it is. I was disappointed naturally but there was not much I could do about it, I just had to get on and do the best job I could.”

Race 2 was the first on the track after overnight rain and Duncan jumped out to the early lead with Lancelot and van de ven in tow. For seven of the ten laps the top three remained the same which would have resulted in the championship for van de ven. However it wasn’t meant to be as van de ven got stuck, then fell on the uphill step and was passed by Germany’s  Larissa Papenmeier, losing the points she needed. 

Duncan took the win ahead of Lancelot by 46 seconds. In the championship Fontanesi beat out Lancelot by a single point for the title while Duncan took third for the weekend and third for the championship, only two points behind Fontanesi.

 A disappointed Duncan says the final race was at least some bittersweet consolation.

“I rode as hard as I could in that second race and actually lapped the new world champion, which made me feel a little bit better. I’ve turned the page and am looking ahead to next year. I’ll be looking to minimise some of the mistakes I made earlier in the year and I’ll be back for another attempt on that world title.”

Coppins was saddened that it has now been two years in a row that “controversial unfortunate incidents out of Courtney’s hands – call them bad luck, call them racing incidents, call them what you like – have cost her two world titles.”

Last season Duncan’s championship was derailed when an errantly-positioned photographer blocked her path on a jump, causing her to crash and injure herself.

Coppins says: “It was pretty disappointing that mistakes from within the promoter and Federation of International Motorcycling FIM, Youthstream officials and the hosting French Federation of Motorcycling have impacted the championship yet again. I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, we gave it our all, we did everything we can, I just feel sorry for Courtney.”

The consolation for the weekend was Duncan’s ability to rise above what must have been an extremely difficult headspace and find an incredible turn of speed in the final race of the six-round championship, Coppins says.

“I’m really proud of the way she handled it and to come out and dominate the second moto, and win by over 40 seconds, lap up to second place and lap the new world champion. It shows only what could have been.”

 

THE STANDINGS 

WMX Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), 26:14.030; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:26.646; 3. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:49.100; 4. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), +1:16.439; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Suzuki), +1:23.239; 6. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Yamaha), +2:07.722; 7. Jessie Joineau (FRA, Honda), -1 lap(s); 8. Madison Brown (AUS, Yamaha), -1 lap(s); 9. Justine Charroux (FRA, Yamaha), -1 lap(s); 10. Virginie Germond (SUI, Yamaha), -1 lap(s).

 

WMX Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Yamaha), 27:36.604; 2. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:46.824; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), -1 lap(s); 4. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Suzuki), -1 lap(s); 5. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), -3 lap(s); 6. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), -3 lap(s); 7. Mathilde Martinez (FRA, Husqvarna), -3 lap(s); 8. Virginie Germond (SUI, Yamaha), -3 lap(s); 9. Francesca Nocera (ITA, Suzuki), -4 lap(s); 10. Anne Borchers (GER, Suzuki), -5 lap(s).

 

WMX Overall Top Ten: 1. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, YAM), 45 points; 2. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 42 p.; 3. Courtney Duncan (NZL, YAM), 40 p.; 4. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 38 p.; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 34 p.; 6. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 33 p.; 7. Virginie Germond (SUI, YAM), 24 p.; 8. Mathilde Martinez (FRA, HUS), 23 p.; 9. Justine Charroux (FRA, YAM), 21 p.; 10. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 16 p.

 

WMX Championship Top Ten: 1. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, YAM), 233 points; 2. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 232 p.; 3. Courtney Duncan (NZL, YAM), 231 p.; 4. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 231 p.; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 194 p.; 6. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KTM), 184 p.; 7. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, YAM), 119 p.; 8. Francesca Nocera (ITA, SUZ), 95 p.; 9. Virginie Germond (SUI, YAM), 94 p.; 10. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 89 p.

COVINGTON WINS MXGP FINALE

HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING WRAPS UP 2017 SEASON WITH OVERALL MX2 CLASS VICTORY IN PAYS DE MONTBELIARD

Successfully battling through the extremely muddy conditions at the Villars-sous-Écot circuit, Thomas Covington has rounded out the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship by claiming the overall MX2 class victory at the final round of the series in France. Gaining valuable points, the Husqvarna rider climbed to fourth in the final MX2 World Championship standings.

Covington entered the final in France determined to continue his strong run of form. Securing a sixth-place result during the MX2 qualifying race, the American proved more than ready to face the incredibly demanding track conditions during the two final motos on Sunday.

Starting the opening moto in second, Thomas used his speed in the French mud to take the lead before the end of the opening lap. Keeping his head down he retained his advantage for the rest of the moto and despite a late mistake the American claimed his fifth victory for the season. Getting the holeshot in moto two, Thomas crossed the line in second to secure the overall class victory.

“It’s just great to end the season with overall victory in such demanding conditions, Covington said post-race. “It was a perfect confidence booster for the coming season. I got the holeshot in the opening moto and that felt great. My goal was to keep it on two wheels while trying to retain a safe gap to the rest of the field. The track was rough and quite difficult to ride. A few laps before the finish I got stuck in a rut but luckily my gap was big enough to secure the moto win. In moto two I got another holeshot but quickly got passed by a couple of riders. I kept my head down and managed to make a few passes for second at the line.”

Covington and the rest of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team will return to action at 2017 Motocross of Nations in Matterley Basin, United Kingdom next week.

KTM SET TO CAP OFF STELLAR SEASON

When it comes to this year’s MXGP Championship, there is one name that has stood out (okay, two…), and that is KTM’s Tony Cairoli.

Team Tangerine have plenty to celebrate going into the final round of the 2017 MXGP Championship, as Cairoli already has the red plate in the bag while simultaneously heading almost every statistic for 2017.

Cairoli posted the most pole positions (six), led the most laps, scored nine moto wins (a total that teammate Jeffrey Herlings overtook at Assen), won six Grands Prix from 18 up until the Netherlands fixture and appeared on the podium 13 times.

Importantly, and after two injury-hit years, Cairoli has held onto the red plate as series leader from round seven and showed that even at 31 years of age, that he is still the top dog in what has been called the most competitive term of MXGP to-date.

“The previous two years were a little bit difficult for Tony and there was a period where we did not know he could strike back in such a way said KTM’s VP of Off-Road Motorsports Robert Jonas.

“He could really show the young guys that he was still the one to beat. He is such an experienced rider and with so many titles in the backpack, he is one of the most confident. Next season won’t be an easy one for the rest of the class and their target will still be to beat Tony Cairoli one day.”

2017 has been a stellar season for the entire Red Bull KTM crew with three times MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings becoming an authentic protagonist and 2018 title threat in his maiden campaign on the KTM 450 SX-F .

KTM are also close to MX2 success with Pauls Jonass’ performances and Jorge Prado’s prolific holeshots. The zenith came at the Grand Prix of Belgium where all three MXGP riders filled the rostrum spots. Herlings also excelled in the United States, with a victorious wildcard appearance at the final Lucas Oil AMA Pro National in Indiana (which you can read all about in the current issue of DRD!).

The story of the year is Cairoli however, and his fantastic turnaround from a broken arm in 2015 and nerve damage in his neck and arm in 2016 (when he still finished as series runner-up) to again prevail in Grand Prix and therefore nudge closer to Stefan Everts’ record haul of ten world titles and 101 wins (Tony is on 83).

“It was an important championship for me because we didn’t start as the favourite, and for everybody who was ‘talking’ [doubting and criticizing] this is for them, Cairoli said.

“I know what it takes to make a solid and consistent championship. We made it and I’m really happy about this. It was an amazing season, one of my best. It is amazing that I can still improve myself after almost fifteen years in the world championship. I’m proud of this and I think we can still work to be a bit better in some cases but right now I want to enjoy this title. It is the first with the KTM 450 SX-F for me, which is very special. The rest were with the 350 and when I was injured, we were never really in a position where we could test [the 450] a lot. This year I felt very good with the bike and we improved a lot in the winter.”

Cairoli will now try to close the book on 2017 with yet more champagne at the Grand Prix Pays de Montbeliard in France before he goes on to represent his country at the 71st Motocross of Nations at Matterley Basin on October 1.

Van de Ven Dominates Dutch Grand Prix

No Fear Yamaha Official WMX’s Nancy van de Ven took the WMX Championship lead this weekend at the Dutch TT Circuit, Assen, The Netherlands, after dominating all sessions – qualifying and both races – for her first Grand Prix win of the season.

It has been a season filled with uncertainty as four of the fastest females in the world have been battling for WMX supremacy over the last five rounds of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship. This weekend, the fifth round – of the six round series – took place at the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen where Holland’s own Nancy van de Ven made a solid bid for the title. The Dutch girl electrified the crowd and proved she’s a force to be reckoned with after she came into Assen fourth-place in the WMX Championship Standings, 12-points down, and has left with the red-plate and a 3-point lead over Altherm Yamaha Official WMX’s Courtney Duncan.

With rain hammering the venue yesterday, Yamaha’s talented ladies had their work cut out for them as they plunged into the wet and rutty sand of Assen for the first race of the Grand Prix. The race didn’t get off to the best of starts for all three girls as the trio found themselves on the deck during the opening laps. Nancy van de Ven – who qualified a whopping 7.5-seconds faster than anyone else – was quick to remount and before the end of lap-three she was already in fourth place and rapidly reeling in the leaders.

With some of the ruts and holes being waist deep and topped by a layer of sloppy mud, the championship leader Courtney Duncan and MXFonta Yamaha Official WMX’s Kiara Fontanesi both ended up face down in the dirt a couple of times. Each crash dropped the duo back outside of the top-10 where they had to dig-deep to recoup positions.

In such treacherous conditions, surviving the race is a huge achievement. After numerous crashes, Courtney Duncan managed to salvage fourth place while fellow Yamaha ace Kiara Fontanesi had a similar race and managed to recover enough positions for fifth place. Nancy van de Ven, on the other hand, was nothing short of incredible. She took the lead from Larissa Papenmeir and one of her biggest rivals – Livia Lancelot – and put in a thrilling ride to win by a whopping 46-seconds. Duncan and Fontanesi managed to salvage enough places to round out the top-five.

On the second day of the Women’s Grand Prix, the riders were pleasantly surprised to see the sun beaming across cloudless skies, assisting in the drying of the saturated sand. When the gates dropped the fans leapt to their feet as their own little legend van de Ven led the best female motocross riders in the world into turn-three ahead of fellow YZ250F starlets Courtney Duncan and Kiara Fontanesi. Van de Ven’s form this weekend was on another level. She was flawless in Race 2 and led every lap for her third race win of the season. Her impeccable 1-1 result landed her on the top step of the podium for the first time this year.

A mistake by Duncan early on dropped the Kiwi back to sixth place. Desperate to redeem herself she clawed her way back to second place before making a costly mistake and crashing. 18-seconds was the price, and an impossible margin to shrink with only two-laps left in the moto. She finished in fourth place – behind Fontanesi who finished in third – and was forced to relinquish the red-plate. Duncan finished fifth overall at the WMX Grand Prix of The Netherlands and was pushed back to second place in the WMX Championship Standings. She now trails van de Ven by 2-points. Fontanesi was fourth overall this weekend and has been nudged back to fourth-place in the Championship Standings. She is 3-points shy of Duncan going into the final round of the championship which will take place next weekend – September 16th & 17th – in Villars-sous-Ecot, France.

2018 Honda CRF250RW MXGP debut in USA

Team HRC MX2 are all set for the new CRF250RW to debut in USA

This weekend Michele Cervellin will debut the all new Honda CRF250RW at the MXGP of the USA for round 17 of the FIM world motocross championship.

The Factory-spec machine is based on the new 2018 CRF250R which was unveiled recently in Lommel. Honda Racing Corporation has given the bike the full works treatment in the hopes of making it a highly competitive machine in the MX2 class.

“This weekend we debut the all new Honda CRF250RW which we are quite excited about, said HRC MXGP General Manager Roger Harvey. Miki has been testing the bike over the last few weeks so we are looking forward to seeing how he does in competition at this new to the MXGP calendar Jacksonville track.”

Cervellin is undoubtedly looking forward to campaigning the new machine after an up and down season. “I am really looking forward to riding in the US this weekend on the new CRF250RW, he said. I really like the power of the new bike, it is also much better off of the starts so I think we should be able to get a good start and then a better result from that.”

MX2 qualifying race starts at 3:25pm local time on Saturday 2nd September.