Courtney Duncan of Bike it MTX Kawasaki wrapped up her third consecutive FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship title at the final round in Trentino.
The Kiwi entered the final stage of the series with a 16-point advantage over her closest rival Kiara Fontanesi, but some bad luck in the races prevented the Italian from taking the battle to the final race as Duncan was able to secure the gold plate by the end of the first race.
In race one, it was Larissa Papenmeier of Yamaha Racing 423 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 of 9MM Energy Drink Bud Racing Kawasaki, Nancy Van De Ven of Ceres 71 Racing, 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.
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 of Honda 114 Motorsport 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 Montinifor 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.
With 268 points, Kawasaki win the WMX Manufacturers Championship ahead of Yamaha and GasGas.
Courtney Duncan: “Obviously it was a good season with good battles, good races and bad races. I just made the best out of every situation this year, fought for every point I could, and it feels great to win a third championship. It hasn’t probably really sunk it yet, but it will feel good tomorrow and the days to come. My day today started off not too bad. The first race I got third and I got a little nervous there. The girls out front ran really good but I was able to finish third and obviously close the championship with a race to go. I think I was in control with a couple laps into the race and rode really well to keep myself in that position. It was nice to end the season with a win and I am going to enjoy it”.
Nancy Van De Ven: “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: “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: “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”.
Photo Credit – MXGP