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.