The world's best women's motocross rider cemented herself at the top of the sport by defending her world title last weekend.
Young Kiwi Courtney Duncan didn't quite emulate her utter dominance of last year where she won nine of the 10 races. This year she was challenged by a disrupted world due to Covid-19, some pretty hefty accidents, and some damn good riding by her peers.
Always the battler and knowing that if you continue to give your best the cards will eventually fall your way, Duncan can honestly say she had to overcome adversity, believe in herself and work extremely hard to hold the trophy aloft.
"It was definitely a challenge," Duncan told the Weekend Herald after the race weekend.
"The night before the race I wrote down a few key things I wanted to focus on going into the race. To be honest though, going into that first moto I didn't really think of any of it; I just went on instinct. I was sort of in the zone and just let it play out and do its thing.
"I'm just grateful the way it turned out in the end. Sometimes it's too easy to be tied up about the outcome rather than the race itself, especially with a championship on the line."
Duncan won her second title on countback wins, but it didn't look too good at the start of race one last weekend. She crashed just after the gates fell and by the time Duncan got back on the bike she was dead last.
In probably the best ride of her career, Duncan scythed through the field to snatch the lead in the dying moments of the race to notch up the win she desperately needed to keep the defence of her world title on track.
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"It was crazy going into the first corner and I just had to make the most of the situation and try and get back through the field and was fortunate to get the win.
"All the girls are riding really well. We were probably all put under the pump this weekend and thankfully I got that race win in the first race, because Nancy [Van de Ven] and Kiara [Fontanesi] were on it in that second race and set a really good pace," said Duncan.
The last race of the season would determine the world title and four riders were in contention — Duncan, Van de Ven, Fontanesi and Larissa Papenmeier. The Kiwi rider headed into the start gate with a four-point lead in the championship and decided to play the long game rather than going all out for the win.
Duncan crossed the line third behind Fontanesi and race winner Van De Ven. Both Van De Ven and Duncan were tied on 207 points, with the championship being decided on race wins and it was those five wins, in Matterley Basin, Mantova and Trentino, which helped Duncan secure the gold plate for the second year in a row.
"After winning the first race I had a lot of confidence going into moto two. I wanted to make sure I didn't lose focus and concentrated on the race at hand. I knew the points situation, which was important as I knew I didn't have to do anything stupid and third would be good enough to win the title.
"In the past I might have thrown away opportunities by going too hard, so this time we were looking at the bigger picture and a race win wasn't as good as winning a championship.
"I got the job done in the first race and that was where the championship was won so I just had to maintain it. Winning another world title has sunk in a little bit, but I'm sure it will do more in the next few weeks."