In the cruellest of circumstances, Kiwi motocross phenomenon Courtney Duncan will be unable to race the final two rounds of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX), due to the flare-up of an injury in her right foot.

The Altherm JCR Yamaha rider has a dominant 21-point advantage over her nearest rival but has been advised today by surgeons, at her Belgium base, against risking permanent damage to her foot if she rides in this weekend’s penultimate round in the Netherlands. Duncan must take a three-month break from riding, which also rules her out of contesting the final round in Italy on September 30.

“I don’t think there’s a word to describe how I’m feeling right now. It breaks my heart to know I won’t be able to line up and go for the world title. I have to think of the bigger picture. I am only young and I’ve got championships to deliver in the future. I want to thank my sponsors and supporters and those who have stuck by me for the past couple of years,” Duncan (22) says.

She sustained the injury – twisting her foot and damaging the bones and ligaments – while racing in a round of the French Motocross Championship after the fourth WMX round in June. Her coach and Altherm JCR Yamaha team manager Josh Coppins says it was a complicated injury.

“We had some mixed information about the recovery period. Initially, we thought it was shorter and with the penultimate round approaching, Courtney resumed riding after nine weeks. Unfortunately, she reinjured her foot 10 days ago. We have sought three different surgeons’ opinions and all of them concurred that under no circumstances can she ride a bike for three months. They all said there’s not even a remote chance she can ride this weekend.”

“It’s not an injury that’s just about managing the pain, as I know Courtney would just grin and bear it. It could affect her for the rest of her life if she damages her foot any further.”

“I am so disappointed for her, especially off the back of a rollercoaster three years. This year she rode so well and put herself in the best possible position to bring home a world title. The other WMX riders have been given a bit of a gift now but that’s sport – there’s soaring highs and crushing lows,” Coppins says.

Duncan has had a string of bad fortune over her three tilts at the WMX title. In 2016, while leading her debut championship – after winning three of her first four races – she crashed into an errant photographer, who was standing in the wrong place on a jump. She injured herself badly and missed out on two rounds and consequently the title.

In 2017, she was winning the second-to-last race of the season when she swerved to avoid a cluster of five fallen riders blocking the track and crashed into a fence – recovering to finish sixth. The race jury initially ruled the results would be awarded on the placings from the lap before the track was blocked, when Courtney was in front. But this decision was then changed and the results at the end of the race were reinstated, meaning Duncan did not have enough points to be able to win the championship.

She went out and won the season’s last race by 46 seconds, finishing third in the WMX – only three points away from first.

This year she won five out of the eight WMX races she contested throughout Europe.

Coppins is currently in Belgium with Duncan.

“While I would have liked to have been able to personally contact all the people around the world and particularly in New Zealand who have been involved in Courtney’s campaign, it is just not practically possible from over here. Please accept my apologies for breaking this bad news in a statement,” Coppins says.

Altherm JCR Yamaha would like to thank everyone for their support over the 2018 WMX season.

Duncan has requested that the media give her a few days privacy to process this disappointment. She is unsure when she will return to New Zealand at this stage.


Suzuki has released full technical details of its 2019 RM-Z250, with the MX2 machine getting a new frame, swingarm and suspension, plus a new engine that produces more power and torque than its predecessor. The new RM-Z250 also gets the latest version of Suzuki’s Holeshot Assist Control and traction management systems, further improving its performance, while more angular new styling sharpens the look.

The engineers at Suzuki have been busy and the engine has been enhanced for both power and manageability, with a plethora of upgrades.

The top-half of the engine is redesigned with a new cylinder head, intake and exhaust ports. The intake-cam profile has been changed to increase valve lift and improve throttle response across the whole rev range. They have also decreased mechanical loss by redesigning the cam-chain and tensioner.

Probably the most impressive of the engine upgrades is an added second injector nearer the air-box to increase power, higher in the rpm range. To get all this new grunt to the back wheel, Suzuki have changed the gear-ratios on the second and top gears.

To complete the engine side of things, the 2019 RM-Z250 receives an extension to the exhaust by 99mm, improving power at lower engine speeds.

The frame has been put on a diet and has lost 370g whilst being stiffened up 10%.

The ergonomics have also been changed to improve the bike’s handling performance and agility. The Suzuki receives new Renthal handlebars which are straighter, lower and further forward from previous models. The footpegs have been moved forward and higher whilst the fuel tank has also been on a diet, which saves 312g, while a slimmer seat loses another 274g and makes it easier for the rider to move around.

The KYB Spring-fork suspension, bigger brakes and lighter wheels have also helped to improve handling performance.

As with most new machines, the electronics package is a focal point and the RM-Z250 is no exception.

Suzuki’s advanced Holeshot Assist Control and traction management systems are further improved for 2019, giving riders a better chance to get out of the gate ahead of the competition and stay ahead in the race. Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) was developed to give riders an advantage out of the gate, optimising ignition timing to help the launch be as efficient as possible. Two modes either advance or retard ignition timing, with riders able to select either depending on the surface.


For full details check out the next issue of Dirtrider Downunder!





It was champions galore at the 2018 edition of the annual New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships near Timaru at the weekend.
Former national motocross champions, a former rugby champion and a visiting international FMX star all locked handlebars at the two-day event at Southburn, near Timaru, on Saturday and Sunday and put on a stunning show for the large crowd in attendance.
Sponsored by Timaru Yamaha, the popular annual event featured many riders who, despite their veteran status, still rate among the sport’s elite, while the female side of the sport that shared the race programme was just as intense.
Christchurch’s 2009 national MX1 champion Justin McDonald was the stand-out individual of the weekend, unbeaten in six race starts.
The 33-year-old builder won all five race in his veterans’ 30-34 years’ class and then also won the Champion of Champions feature race that wound up the weekend, his win in that feature race despite his handicapping himself by facing backwards on the start gate.
“I’m semi-retired now, wrapped up with building my family home. My wife (Nikki) and I have two children, three-year-old Skye and 13-week-old Blue, so I’ve been too busy to race much,” said McDonald.
“It was great to be out on the track again though, racing against some of the guys I used to battle with back in the day.
“I faced myself backwards on the start gate for the feature race, but I still got there in the end,” he laughed.
Former Otago rugby captain David Latta from Balclutha, was another former national sporting hero in action at the weekend, albeit from a very different code, and he won the veterans’ 55-59 years’ class title.
An added attraction at the weekend was the surprise, last-minute appearance of international Freestyle Motocross groundbreaker Carey Hart, husband of rock star Pink, who was on a concert tour of the country.
With a little help from Motorcycling New Zealand, the 43-year-old Hart was able to indulge in “a little bit of a skid” at day one of the veterans’ nationals.
“Wow, I had so much fun racing today,” he said afterwards “Can’t believe how good the track was.”
For the record, the American rider managed two fifth-place results and a 10th in the veterans’ 40-44 years’ class on Saturday and was unavailable to race on Sunday.
Hart’s celebrity status resulted for the organisers in the kind of publicity money could not buy.
Media attention spiked and as many as 1000 extra fans came through the gates to the race at the Southburn farm, a event that organisers had only been expecting a “couple of hundred” to attend.
The event organiser, MNZ board member Noel May, said the weekend was “perfect in so many ways”.
“We were a wee bit worried about the weather, because rain had been forecast, but nothing came until after all the racing was completed on Sunday afternoon. We were a bit lucky,” he said.
“I was really proud of the track we were able to provide  and the racing was exceptional. The riders all loved it … it was natural, old-school style.
“It was great to have Carey Hart show up. He was a really chilled-out guy and signed heaps of autographs. It was great for the sport to have him come here and he remarked that the track was ‘just heaven’ and better than anything he rides on back home.”
Meanwhile, other class winners from the weekend were: Timaru’s Michael Dunn (Vets 35-39 years class); Tai Patu’s Brendan Wilson (Vets 40-44 years); Christchurch’s Brad Norton (Vets 45-49 years); New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe (Vets 50-54 years); Balclutha’s Brian Jacobs (Vets 60-69 years); Ongarue’s Reg Davey (Vets over-70 years); Australian Jessica Moore (Senior women); Motueka’s Roma Edwards (Junior women, 12-16 years, 125cc/250cc); Invercargill’s Charlotte Clark (Junior women, 13-16 years, 85cc); Ngatea’s Brooke Dalley (Junior women, 8-12 years, 85cc).
          Credit: Words by Andy McGechan
          Photo by Eric Soir

AUGUST 26, 2018: There were mixed feelings in the Kiwi camp on Sunday after racing wrapped up at the 2018 FIM Junior Motocross World Championships at Horsham, in Australia.

None of the New Zealand contingent managed to end the weekend on the podium – something that had been expected in some quarters – but impressive performances were certainly seen from the Kiwis racing at the deeply-rutted Victorian track.

Best of the Kiwis was Oparau’s James Scott, who finished 7th overall in the premier 125cc class, which came despite his making life difficult for himself with a shocking start in the first of his two races on Sunday.

From nearly last position as the bikes exited turn one, the 16-year-old Scott went on the charge, powering through to 22nd by the end of the first of 15 laps. He continued to work forward and eventually claimed seventh at the finish line.

He also crossed the finish line seventh in race two, after a thrilling battle with French European 125cc Championship leader Thibaut Benistant, those combined results giving Scott a world ranking of seven.

Behind Scott, it was Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly who was next best of the Kiwis in the 125cc class, finishing 13th overall, while Taihape’s Hayden Smith ended up 14th overall and Rongotea’s Zac Jilling finished up 31st overall in the 34-rider 125cc field.

In the 85cc class, best of the Kiwis was Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke, who finished 12th overall.

Rongotea’s Rhys Jillings claimed 28th overall and Darfield’s Tyler Wiremu finished 31st in the 39-rider 85cc class that lined up at Horsham.

Best of the Kiwis in the 65cc class was entrants was Waitoki’s Cole Davies (15th overall), with Nelson’s William Harvey finishing 32nd, Cambridge’s Harrison Findlay ending up 34th and Palmerston North’s Lachie Barr 35th.

Meanwhile, it was Australian teenager Bailey Malkiewicz who made the most of home turf advantage to win the 125cc class title, United States rider Caden Braswell was the top 85cc class rider at Horsham and Australian Braden Plath took the 65cc class honours.

“For me, Brodie (Connolly) was the most impressive of the Kiwis,” said Bay of Plenty’s Ben Townley, the former world champion who had worked as mentor to Scott, Connolly and Smith.

“Brodie was the rider of the weekend I feel. He’s tenacious and had quite high expectations, but I said to him he needed to lower them and he didn’t want to.

“The mission for Brodie this weekend, at only 14 years of age, was to get two good starts and show the world what he could do and he did exactly that.

“For James (Scott), it was a nice effort by him to fight back from his poor start, but he should not have had to do that. We had expected him to be in a podium position and he didn’t achieve that, which was disappointing.

“For Hayden we had a lot of expectation. He hasn’t done a lot of international racing and so it was always going to be tough for him.”

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan

Former AMA Motocross Champion Chad Reed will race a Suzuki rmz450 this weekend in the final round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at the Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana for the Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team. 

Reed, who achieved his greatest success outdoors on a Suzuki while capturing the 2009 AMA 450 Pro Motocross Championship, had those powerful memories renewed recently when the Australian had the chance to ride a stock 2018 Suzuki rmz450 during a press event in California.

Highly impressed by the rmz450, Reed reached out to Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team Manager Jeremy Albrecht and asked about testing the race bike at JGRMX’s headquarters in North Carolina and the positive testing experience opened an opportunity for Reed to line up for the Ironman National.

Chad Reed: 

“The opportunity came up last week for me to test the Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki rmz450. I immediately felt comfortable with the bike and team. Although I had not planned to be in ‘race shape’ for another six weeks, it’s an opportunity to get out and do what I absolutely love the most, which is race. I haven’t raced a National in three years, but I have those nervous and excited race feelings to be getting back out there. I’m stoked to help the team and sponsors while a few of their riders are out with injuries. I feel like a kid again getting to ride a factory bike and go racing with a highly motivated crew. I hope to see lots of ‘22’ fans this weekend!”

Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory  Racing Team Manager Jeremy Albrecht is excited to work with one of the sport’s most accomplished and popular riders.

Jeremy Albrecht – Team Manager:

“Chad Reed is a welcome addition to the team for this weekend. I am very impressed by his testing abilities and professionalism. Chad was almost immediately comfortable on the Suzuki rmz450 and looked great. The last National of the series just got a lot more interesting, to say the least! It should be a fun experience for the whole team.”
Chad Reed will be joined by Justin Hill, who is still nursing a bruised knee, in the 450 class, while Enzo Lopes and Jimmy Decotis will contest the 250 class on their Suzuki RM-Z250’s.