Turkish delight indeed. A seventh consecutive victory in the FIM Women’s World Championship – WMX – meant that rapid New Zealander Courtney Duncan made a formality of her very first crown in what was the fifth and final outing of the season for the fastest female off-road motorcycle racers.
The hard-pack Afyon circuit brought MXGP to Turkey for the second year in a row and the first visit by WMX - as a support class - to the impressive, fast and jumpy track.
The layout showcased how hard, powerful and dynamic top-flight motocross can be and Duncan was the early star with her feat on Saturday. Fittingly #151 motored to her fate in isolation after dealing with the early threat of Sara Andersen in the first of two motos. She was thirteen seconds ahead of the Dane by the time the ‘candles’ were lit on the Monster Energy Finish line bridge.
“I’m lost for words. It is almost indescribable,” the 23 year old said immediately after peeling off the track to her team and family, who started the celebrations. Duncan’s success was made all the sweeter through her travails, and three years of a transatlantic balancing act.
She aced her very first Grand Prix in 2016 but saw two title attempts wrecked by injury and a third frustratingly denied by just one point. “I expected big things,” she said in Turkey, and reflecting on her emphatic and immediate impact in WMX. “I just had to take my time and learn from mistakes and failures. When we felt like quitting we kept going and here we are: world champions.”
Duncan signed-off her 2019 assault with a second race win on Sunday, taking her numbers to nine motos from ten and four from the five rounds.
Elsewhere at Afyon and Monster Energy Yamaha were missing the surging speed and talent of Romain Febvre – the Frenchman sustaining a broken left femur while crashing out of the lead of the previous round in Sweden – but watched MX2 racer Jago Geerts finish second overall and open his first bottle of champagne since round nine in Latvia.
MXGP enters a jet-hopping and frantic final phase. The last date of the series will take place in Shanghai next week for the first ever Grand Prix of China and the main racers and teams will then have just a fortnight to get prepped in their country colours for the 73rd FIM Motocross of Nations at Assen in Holland.