Courtney Duncan has swept to her fourth victory in six rounds of the 2023 FIM World WMX Women’s Motocross Championship to clinch world title number four at Afyonkarahisar in Turkey.
Despite the challenging conditions caused by the previous day’s storms, Duncan needed only to finish seventeenth or better to secure the championship. The track was saturated, but as the sun emerged for the final race, it created treacherous conditions that demanded constant concentration.
Opting for gate number one and avoiding the sighting lap to keep her gear clean, Duncan started in third position, while her main rival struggled in traffic. The slick, wet clay base made the entire track extremely slippery, with riders facing roost from the bike in front.
Duncan displayed her experience by patiently staying behind the riders ahead, keeping her goggles clean to ensure clear vision. With backmarkers coming into play within a few laps and even experienced riders struggling, danger lurked at every turn. On the fifth lap of the ten-lap race, Duncan secured a safe pass for second place and navigated the treacherous conditions to secure her fourth world title with her fourth GP victory of the season.
Duncan expressed her confidence and ability to handle muddy conditions, emphasizing her calm approach to the race. She recognized the challenging nature of the season due to long breaks between some races but praised her team’s unwavering focus. Duncan also highlighted the improvement in her performance this year and the reliability of her Kawasaki bike.
“Honestly I was not too stressed today; I knew what I needed to do and I know how to ride mud,” Duncan explained. “Anything can happen in these conditions but I got a good start and just stayed upright. The conditions were difficult and slippery but it was the same for everyone and I ran it home in second; that was enough for the overall victory and the championship. It’s been a really good season with four GP wins and we were really consistent; for sure it’s a challenge when there are such long breaks between some races after you have started to build momentum but we kept our focus.
“I feel like we definitely stepped it up this year and my Kawasaki never missed a beat. And this title means so much to me; the first one in 2019 was a sigh of relief, getting the monkey off my back, but I got knocked down last year with my injury and I really wanted to raise the bar this year. It took a lot of hard work but my mom’s here this weekend for the first time and to experience one with her is very special so first we’ll enjoy this one and then we’ll start to work for the next one!”
The partnership between Kawasaki Motors Europe, Team Big Van World MTX, and the twenty-seven-year-old New Zealander has been remarkably successful, resulting in four individual and three manufacturers’ world titles over five seasons. They’ve achieved this with sixteen GP victories out of twenty-five starts and twenty-eight out of fifty motos, all aboard the KX250, a bike available to the public through Kawasaki dealers. Remarkably, their KX250 has been incredibly reliable, with the only Did Not Finish (DNF) in five seasons being the result of a crash.
Daniela Guillen finished second in the championship thirty points in arrears of Duncan while WMX rookie, and Duncan’s team-mate, Lotte Van Drunen finished the championship in third place.
WMX – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:41.482
2 Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:10.062
3 Daniela Guillen (ESP, GASGAS), +0:12.561
4 Lynn Valk (NED, Fantic), +0:14.110
5 Lotte Van Drunen (NED, Kawasaki), +0:14.856
6 Charli Cannon (AUS, Yamaha), +0:41.945
7 Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:49.249
8 Shana van der Vlist (NED, Yamaha), +1:09.330
9 Gabriela Seisdedos (ESP, GASGAS), +1:15.227
10 Mathea Seleboe (NOR, Yamaha), +1:18.306
WMX – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Lynn Valk (NED, Fantic), 26:02.829
2 Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), +1:15.192
3 Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +1:19.612
4 Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +2:29.881
5 Shana van der Vlist (NED, Yamaha), +2:56.633
6 Gabriela Seisdedos (ESP, GASGAS), +3:00.906
7 Lotte Van Drunen (NED, Kawasaki), -1 lap(s)
8 Daniela Guillen (ESP, GASGAS), -1 lap(s)
9 Britt Jans-Beken (NED, Yamaha), -1 lap(s)
10 Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), -1 lap(s)
WMX – Overall Top 10 Classification:
1 Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 47 points
2 Lynn Valk (NED, FAN), 43 points
3 Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 40 points
4 Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 34 points
5 Daniela Guillen (ESP, GAS), 33 points
6 Lotte Van Drunen (NED, KAW), 30 points
7 Shana van der Vlist (NED, YAM), 29 points
8 Gabriela Seisdedos (ESP, GAS), 27 points
9 Britt Jans-Beken (NED, YAM), 21 points
10 Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), 19 points
WMX – Championship Top 10 Classification:
1 Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 270 points
2 Daniela Guillen (ESP, GAS), 240 points
3 Lotte Van Drunen (NED, KAW), 230 points
4 Lynn Valk (NED, FAN), 211 points
5 Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 166 points
6 Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 157 points
7 Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 145 points
8 Britt Jans-Beken (NED, YAM), 130 points
9 Charli Cannon (AUS, YAM), 106 points
10 Shana van der Vlist (NED, YAM), 98 points