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WMX, MXGP OF TURKEY - Afyonkarahisar, Turkey, 3 Syyskuu 2023

World title #4 for Courtney Duncan

Courtney Duncan and Big Van World MTX Kawasaki swept to their fourth victory in six rounds of the 2023 FIM World WMX Women’s Motocross Championship to clinch world title #4 at Afyonkarahisar in Turkey.

The track was saturated from the previous day's storms and, even though the sun came out just in time for the final moto of the series, conditions were treacherous and non-stop concentration throughout the twenty-minute-plus-two lap race was essential even though the Kiwi needed only to finish seventeenth or better to secure the title. After sitting out the sighting lap to keep her KX250 and riding gear clean Duncan chose the relative safety of gate number one and rounded turn one in third while her sole remaining rival for the crown was stuck in traffic. Wet dirt on a solid clay base made conditions extremely slippery around the entire lap and there was a constant roost from the rear wheel of the bike in front. The champion-to-be showed all her experience to hang back patiently from the two riders ahead of her, keeping her goggles clean to ensure clear vision for as long as possible, but there were still dangers at every turn as the leaders came up on backmarkers within a few laps and even some of the more experienced riders slithered to earth. On lap five of ten the Kawasaki star built a safe pass for second and avoided danger throughout the final laps to clinch world title number four with her fourth GP victory of the season and fourth consecutive victory at the track on the high plateau of Anatolia.
The partnership between Kawasaki Motors Europe, Team Big Van World MTX and the twenty-seven-year-old from Palmerston in the Otaga district of the South Island of New Zealand has been one of outstanding success. In five seasons they have claimed four individual and three manufacturers' world titles with sixteen GP victories from twenty-five starts and twenty-eight of fifty motos. All these successes were achieved racing the incomparable KX250 identical to the bikes which the public can buy from their local Kawasaki dealer. And the reliability of the KX250 was also emphasised; the only DNF over five seasons was the result of a crash.
Courtney Duncan: "Honestly I was not too stressed today; I knew what I needed to do and  I know how to ride mud. Anything can happen in these conditions but I got a good start and just stayed upright. The conditions were difficult and slippery but it was the same for everyone and I ran it home in second; that was enough for the overall victory and the championship. It's been a really good season with four GP wins and we were really consistent; for sure it's a challenge when there are such long breaks between some races after you have started to build momentum but we kept our focus. I feel like we definitely stepped it up this year and my Kawasaki never missed a beat. And this title means so much to me; the first one in 2019 was a sigh of relief, getting the monkey off my back, but I got knocked down last year with my injury and I really wanted to raise the bar this year. It took a lot of hard work but my mom's here this weekend for the first time and to experience one with her is very special so first we'll enjoy this one and then we'll start to work for the next one!"
Sixteen-year-old Lotte van Drunen completed the Kawasaki success story as she claimed the WMX world series bronze medal in her rookie season. The Dutch teenager got closed down on the drive to turn one and, her vision already impaired, she fell a few corners later but gritted her teeth to push forward from sixteenth to tenth on the first lap.  Opening up a sufficient gap to the closest chasers to ensure that she wouldn't surrender any positions she pitted for fresh goggles on lap three and with improved vision she was then able to make the passes to claim the eighth place which would give here the thirteen points necessary to convert bronze to silver in the medal chase should her rival fail to finish. Her points rival eventually chased her home in ninth to ensure second in the series but the bronze medal, with a GP win in front of her home fans and four moto victories through the season, is a remarkable achievement in her rookie season.
Lotte van Drunen: "Today wasn't my day - I crashed in the first few corners and had to go into pit lane for fresh goggles - but it's been an amazing rookie season with a GP win, three podiums, the red plate and third in the series. I've learnt from my mistakes and am already fired up for next season; we'll be working hard this winter to do even better next term."