Big time awaits young rising motocross star, reports Andy McGechan
Otago's Courtney Duncan may be getting a bit too big for her boots ... but in a good way.
The just-turned-17 Yamaha ace from Palmerston, halfway between Oamaru and Dunedin, was in scintillating form as she made her senior motocross championships debut at round one of the 2013 series at Pleasant Point, near Timaru, a week ago.
She took her GMD Backflips Yamaha YZ125 bike to 1-2-3 results in her three 125cc class outings, enough to win the day overall from fellow Yamaha young guns Cameron Vaughan, of Rotorua, and Logan Blackburn, of Te Puke.
But, as the steam was still rising from her body at the end of the sweltering day's racing, she announced that this was the only round of the series that she would contest.
"I am flying off to the United States, where I will be based at the Millsaps Training Facility in Georgia and will be racing several big events over there," she said.
This means that Vaughan and Blackburn will have extra incentive to push at the next round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships - at Patetonga, near Morrinsville, this weekend - when the championship lead will be there for the taking.
The two teenage boys will certainly be keen to taste fresh air out front after gasping in Duncan's dust throughout most of the day at Timaru. Duncan qualified fastest at Timaru by nearly four seconds and then led the first race from start to finish.
Crashes in the next two races meant twice she had to fight her way through the field, showing just the sort of dogged determination she will need against the elite in America.
While in the US, she will compete at the Millcreek Spring Nationals in Alabama next month, the Oak Hill International in Texas in March and "possibly" the Freestone Spring Championships in Texas in March as well. Duncan then tackles the annual Loretta Lynn's national amateur championships in Tennessee in August.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Vaughan was perhaps a little unlucky to not win the day instead of Duncan in Timaru.
He won two of the three races but an unfortunate incident near the start of his first race cost him valuable points.
Vaughan crashed while running with the leaders, after "casing a jump and then bouncing into a rut" that threw him off the bike.
"I got going again but was last away and I had to fight through a lot of traffic to get back to finish the race in seventh spot," he said.
"But I'm feeling strong and I'm looking forward to the next rounds of the series."
After Patetonga tomorrow, the national series continues at Pukekohe (on March 10) and it finally wraps up at Taupo on March 31.