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Courtney Duncan and Kawasaki aim for the hat-trick

Courtney Duncan, Team Bike It MTX and Kawasaki have their sights firmly on the hat-trick as the 2021 FIM World WMX Women’s’ Motocross Championship starts this weekend at Loket in the Czech Republic.

The twenty-five year from Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand has an astounding record since joining Steve Dixon’s team with the support of Kawasaki Motors Europe in 2019. Now entering their third season together the partnership has already garnered two individual world titles, a manufacturer’s world title against numerically-superior opposition, fourteen moto wins out of twenty and seven GP victories from ten. The Kiwi girl has also emphatically underlined the continued quality and competitiveness of the Kawasaki range as she has raced to many of her victories during thre second half of each campaign riding an out-of-the-crate KX250 straight off the following year’s production line.
This year’s WMX world series will take in rounds on a variety of different track surfaces in the Czech Republic, Belgium, Turkey, Spain and Italy over the next three months and Courtney goes to the start full of confidence this weekend; last time the series visited Loket in 2019 she raced to a perfect 1-1 scoreline at the serpentine track in the north-western corner of the country. We spoke to her on the eve of her world title defence.
Q: How are you feeling? When did you get back to Europe?
CD: I’m feeling good and I’m excited to be back at the races under the DRT tent.  It seems a long time since I was last here. But the off-season was good; I got to have some time with friends and family and got some good preparation. The tracks were really good back home in New Zealand. I’ve been back in Belgium for a couple of weeks and have been able to go out practising with my mechanic George.
Q: Was it difficult to travel?
CD: It was tough because of the restrictions at the borders; we had to stay two weeks in a hotel when I was back in New Zealand. Covid doesn’t make intercontinental travel easy.
Q: How is life in New Zealand at the moment?
CD: There’s no Covid, no community cases, back home; we’ve been living a normal life for well over a year now.
Q: For the second year in succession you were elected Sportswoman of the Year in New Zealand. How do people learn about you?
CD: There’s no direct TV coverage of the actual races but both national TV and the newspapers have been excellent in reporting my successes and the support at home has been great; the recognition is cool, both locally and at national level.
Q: Does defending the title put pressure on you as favourite? Not so many people have ever won three titles in a row?
CD: It plays on your mind a little bit, and obviously we want to go for the three. But I just want to come and give it the best I’ve got, just the same as though I was going for my first title or my tenth. I still have the same mentality; I want to bring my A game, to do my best and to leave it all on the track.
Q: How do you like the one-day format which was introduced last year ?
CD: Back home in New Zealand we race the one-day format with three or four races on one day so it suits me fine; the more often I can get on the track in one day the more I enjoy it.
Q:  It’s a short season with just five rounds again. How do you feel about that?
CD: It is what it is, but that means consistency is really important and I think it’s exciting for the fans because it stays close in points. And we have a good selection of circuits; hardpack this week, sand next week. But that’s exciting. Both are completely different and you need to be able to ride on all types of track and in all conditions to win the championship.
Q: How is your new bike?
CD: The 2021 KX250 is such a nice bike; I like the new colours too and I already got to race it successfully through the second half of last season so I will use the same set-up.
Q: This weekend will be your first race in Europe this year while most of your rivals have been able to race in their national championships. Is that a disadvantage for you?
CD: I did a couple of races back home too before I flew over, but those national races are not the same for anyone; nothing compares to racing a GP, to compete for a World Championship. There’s more pressure, more expectation; it’s simply a bigger platform on the world stage and I live for moments like this.
Q: How do you like Loket?
CD: It’s a really nice track. I’ve been here a couple of times in the past and it’s been good to me so let’s hope I can keep on that roll. I hear the weather forecast is good for this weekend but we’ll be ready for whatever comes.