Motorsport: Otago lass gives lads a run for their money

By Andy McGechan

Courtney Duncan has Australia and France in her sights. Photo / Andy McGechan, bikesportnz.com
Courtney Duncan has Australia and France in her sights. Photo / Andy McGechan, bikesportnz.com

Otago girl Courtney Duncan has a taste for success and now she's looking for fresh fields to conquer.

The tousle-haired 13-year-old from Palmerston, just north of Dunedin, was a crowd favourite as she raced her way to sixth overall in the 85cc class at the 2009 FIM Junior Motocross World Championships in Taupo just over a week ago.

The Yamaha ace ended up just one point behind fifth-ranked Dutch rider Lars van Berkel and two points behind fourth-ranked Australian rider Hayden Mellross. Just another six points and she could have been on the podium.

Nationally ranked only eighth in her 13-16 years age group after a domestic campaign fraught with problems, few would have picked this diminutive girl on the Yamaha threatening for a podium spot at the sport's highest level and ultimately finish as the top Kiwi in the star-studded international field.

"It was pretty nuts," Duncan said. "People were just pushing and barging all the time. I was one of the smallest as most of the riders were 15.

"I didn't expect to do as well as I did. I surprised myself."

The Year 9 pupil at East Otago High School will next tackle the Australian junior motocross championships near Melbourne and then, depending on funding, she'll look to take on the world's elite at the 2010 edition of the world champs in France.

But getting a bike and rider to France is not cheap.

"I'd like to go, but it's going to cost thousands to get there."

Racing the boys is just something she takes in her stride.

"I'm just like any other rider out there," she insists. "I just want to win and so do they. The boys just treat me like any other rider. They certainly don't do me any favours.

"The event [the world championships in Taupo] is the biggest event I've ever done but, hopefully, it won't be the biggest I ever do. I really want to race in Europe or America. That just depends on how fast I am when I'm older I guess.

"The secret is to never give up. I guess that means I'm stubborn. I've only just turned 13 and I reckon I can be on the podium in France."

- NZ Herald

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