2021 MXGP of Trentino – Courtney Duncan crowned WMX Champion
Courtney Duncan has won her third consecutive FIM Motocross World Championship in Trentino, clinching the title in the first race of the day, and ending the season 31-points clear of runner up Nancy Van De Ven.
Despite hitting the dirt last weekend, fracturing her finger and left with a nasty cut, nothing could stop Duncan in her final charge to victory, riding calculatingly for a championship winning third in the opening race. As carnage unfolded around her and her main competitor Italian Kiara Fontanesi went down after a collision with another rider, the Kiwi superstar rode through the finish flags with enough points to claim her third WMX winner’s gold plate.
“It comes down to how much it means to you, and how much is on the line and how much you want to win it. I was definitely feeling a little anxious but as soon as I got to the line, the helmet went on and I felt pretty controlled out there. I was able to finish third which was good enough to win the championship in the first one, which was pretty crazy. I wasn’t expecting that. This year’s been really tough. We’ve had ups and downs. Along the way it hasn’t been a smooth run. I’ve made the best out of every situation and got as much points as possible.I got to share the victory with my team and Kawasaki and a couple of friends I have over here. It’s been awesome how there’s not so much Covid over here, so we had the whole team and fans watching this weekend. I wish I could say I was going home to New Zealand soon now that the season’s over but it’s difficult to travel at the moment so I might be a Brit for a few more months.”
Duncan now surpasses fellow New Zealand world champion Katherine Oberlin-Brown (nee Prumm) as the country’s most successful female motocross rider. Prumm won the FIM Women’s Motocross World Cup, which was the forerunner to the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship, in 2006 and 2007.
The following year injury hampered Prumm’s title tilt, before a crash in training ended her motocross career in 2009. The only blip on her radar is that Duncan has been unable to secure an MIQ spot to return to New Zealand now that her European race season is finished.
WMX Race 1
In race one, it was Larissa Papenmeier who grabbed the holeshot. Fontanesi and Duncan were a little further behind on the opening lap. Bad luck struck Fontanesi not long after as she went down hard after getting caught up with another rider.
Papenmeier then led Amandine Verstappen, Nancy Van De Ven, Duncan and Lynn Valk. Van De Ven wasted no time to get into second place, as Fontanesi picked herself up in 32nd after her crash.
Duncan then caught onto the back wheel of Verstappen and passed her for third position on lap four. Meanwhile Van De Ven tried several times to get within striking distance of Papenmeier but could not make it happen as Papenmeier secured her first race victory of the season. Van De Ven finished third, while Duncan crossed the line third as the 2021 WMX Champion.
Fontanesi managed to get back to 15th place, but it was not enough to take the title fight to the final race.
WMX Race 2
In race two, it was once again Papenmeier with the holeshot as she led Duncan and Fontanesi. Valk started well once again as she was in fourth place, while Van De Ven was ninth on the opening lap.
Moments later we saw a repeat of what happened in race one, as Fontanesi went down once again and was right at the back of the field.
Papenmeier then led Duncan, Valk, Sara Andersen, Van De Ven, Talia O’Hare and Verstappen. But by the second lap we saw a change for the lead as Duncan was able to get around the German.
Van De Ven was also setting herself up to launch an attack on Andersen, as Fontanesi got by Giorgia Montini for 10th.
Duncan then stretched the lead to 4.391 seconds over Papenmeier who continued ahead of Valk and Van De Ven who finally managed to get by Andersen.
Duncan had full control of the race until the chequered flag, to add race win number five of the season as Papenmeier crossed the line second ahead of Van De Ven who was able to get by Valk.
With a race win and a second, Papenmeier won the final round of the series, with Duncan second on the podium, while Van De Ven was third.
In terms of the championship, Duncan secured her third consecutive world title as Nancy Van De Ven finished the 2021 season with the silver medal ahead of Fontanesi who had to settle for bronze.
Nancy Van De Ven – Championship P2
“I put some pressure on myself because of course everyone who’s here wants to win a world title. But when you come close a few times, you want it even more and more because you almost taste it. I came here with a lot of points from second in the championship so It was pretty unexpected that I take the second place. It was unexpected but also a really nice way to end this difficult season. Today my riding felt really good. In the first race I was feeling so confident, but I just could not make a pass in the beginning of the race to lead, and I finished in second position. I had some good battles. In the second race I had a good start going into the first turn. But after I got a little close, had to give away a few positions and had to come a little bit from behind. Then I managed to come back to third position and third on the podium. This was a pretty nice way to end the season as well.”
Kiara Fontanesi – Championship P3
“I am happy about what I could give because I think it’s the best season I’ve had so far. Not in terms of results, but I have been really competitive on the bike. I felt really great, and I think the setup that I have is the best that I have ever had. So, I am really happy about that and about the speed and everything. For sure, I wanted to win but I had to deal with such bad luck this season and I think the bad luck won. It’s something that’s not up to me, so I cannot do anything about it. I just could be happy and proud of the races I could do, I hope not to have this bad luck next season.”
Larissa Papenmeier – Round P1
“For sure. It was good to end the season like that. I was struggling a bit the whole season. I had some body problems. It was difficult for me for sure but really nice to end the season with a win. Also, well deserved to Courtney for the title, she deserved it and I am really happy for her.”
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