Reigning World Women’s Motocross Champion Courtney Duncan will sit out the third round at the MXGP of Sardegna this weekend to allow her injured collarbone more healing time.
It is a considered decision yet still a bitter blow to the hard-fighting New Zealander who will now not be able to execute a fourth WMX title in a row. She plans to return to the world stage in two weeks’ time at the MXGP of Spain.
“As a racer, it can always be a difficult decision knowing when’s the right time to come back, as obviously you don’t want to return too early and step yourself further back. Sitting out the Sardegna GP wasn’t taken lightly but I know it’s the right thing to do, as the recovery would have been rushed and I wouldn’t have been ready. At the elite level, you need to be at 100 percent to commit to the task and we aren’t there yet,” Duncan says.
While riding in the free practice session at the second round’s MXGP of Portugal early in April, Duncan had a heavy fall. Since then, she has had the break in her collarbone plated by a surgeon and spent some time in Southern France with a friend.
“I stayed with a mate for a couple of weeks and it was good to hang out with a friend and take my mind off everything that had happened,” she said.
Ever the focused athlete, Duncan didn’t let her fitness slide and says she was still in the gym twice daily.
She definitely felt the distance from home as she processed how her season will now look, she says. The incredibly unforgiving nature of her chosen sport means the highs are mountaintops, but the lows are ground down in the mud.
“Every contact you have with extreme sport does come with a risk of getting injured. The rewards are huge but the consequences are huge too. It’s something we are aware of when we step onto the turf. That’s the beauty of elite sport.”
While Duncan’s aim was to claim a four-peat title victory, she has accepted that her injury has meant that the goalposts have shifted.
“We can’t change it, so we’ve switched our focus to making a strong comeback to racing for the last two rounds,” Duncan says.
Duncan will fly home to Dunedin in June, making the most of the two-and-a-half-month gap in the series’ revised calendar before returning to Europe to contest the final WMX round in Turkey on September 3.
Kawasaki New Zealand’s Managing Director Shane Verhoeven, added, “Although disappointing Courtney will not line up behind the gate this weekend, it’s the reasonable decision. I’m sure that with some time off, we will see a rejuvenated athlete at the final two rounds that will define her 2023 season. For now, we wish Courtney all the best during her recovery and look forward to catching up during her break in June/July after round 4 in Spain.”