Courtney Duncan has been three times unlucky in the women's motocross (WMX) world championship but got her fourth tilt at the title off to a cracking start at Valkenswaad in the Netherlands last weekend.

The 23-year-old won the first race, and despite crashing in race two, crossed the line seventh to leave the track sitting fourth in the championship, five points behind early series leader Amandine Verstappen.

Duncan has moved on from her long relationship with Yamaha and is contesting the 2019 championship on a Kawasaki. She has joined well-respected British Bike It Dixon Racing Team on a KX250 alongside fellow racers Brazilian Gustavo Pessoa and American Darian Sanayei.

"My contract was up [with Yamaha] and I was looking abroad to see what was out there. Kawasaki was keen to have me and so we started a conversation," said Duncan.


"Nobody really knew I was a free agent, and as soon as they found out, they were keen from the get-go.

"I had a good feeling about the bike right from the start. It's a bit different for sure and it's narrower than my previous bike and turns better, which helps, as I'm not a big person and the bike fits better."

The Kiwi has been beset with dramas since she joined the world championship series in 2016.

In each of the past three seasons, Duncan has been the dominant rider, leading the championship on numerous occasions, before being hurt by crashes and injury. She has won an impressive seven grands prix and 14 of 15 heat starts.

In her first season, Duncan was leading the championship when a photographer took pictures in the landing zone and wiped out the Kiwi, ending her series.

In 2017, while on track to win the championship, Duncan swerved to miss a bunch of fallen riders only to smash into a fence and could finish only sixth, missing the title.

Last year, a foot injury ended her tilt at the world title causing her to miss the final two rounds while holding a 21-point advantage.

"It's so good to be healthy and not carrying some major injury. Sure, there are a few aches and niggles but that's just the nature of the sport."


Back in New Zealand between rounds, Duncan will contest events to make sure she is race-fit when returning to Europe. Her next race is at Agueda, Portugal, on May 19.