Kiwi Courtney Duncan wins her second straight world title.
Courtney Duncan is a double world champion.
The Dunedin-based rider produced a remarkable ride to defend her Women’s Motocross World (WMX) title by the skin of her teeth (total wins tie-breaker) in Italy on Sunday morning (NZT).
With only four points separating championship leader Dutchwoman Nancy van de Ven, Duncan and Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier, the 24-year-old looked down and out after she clipped the back of van de Ven and hit the dirt coming out of the gates in the penultimate race.
But the Kiwi jumped back on her Kawasaki KX250 and came back from dead last, producing the race of her life as she systematically carved her way through the field on a seemingly impossible hunt to catch Papenmeier.
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With eight minutes still on the clock, and 20 seconds behind the German, it looked like Duncan would fall short.
However, Papenmeier crumbled, losing the front end of her motorbike in the third to last lap and crashing.
Duncan took the lead on the last lap to claim an all-important vital win, her fifth of the season.
It gave her a five-point buffer going into the season’s final race a few hours later, which Duncan finished third in, leaving her and winner van de Ven tied on 207 points.
Duncan snared the world title on total wins, with victories in Matterley Basin, Mantova and Trentino to finish to thank.
Overcome with emotion, Duncan cried tears of happiness as she gave her post-race interview.
“I’m so speechless. Just with all the uncertainty – it’s been just such a difficult year for me this year. That huge crash in Mantova, to get back to my bike and see my handlebars bent. I just thought ‘no, is this championship done?’.
”But I kept believing and when the times got tough, we kept going. I have to thank my whole team, everyone that supports me. This one is for everyone, I can’t do this alone, so thank you!
“It was so close. Coming into the final round all the girls were riding really well. The points were separated by 10, so we were probably all put under the pump this weekend. Thankfully, I got that first race win.”
Duncan, who grew up in the small Otago town of Palmerston, heads back to New Zealand next week and will begin her two-week quarantine.