During their five year association Courtney Duncan, the twenty-seven year old from Palmerston in the Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island, and Kawasaki have won four FIM World WMX Women’s Motocross Championships together. Before moving back home she took time out to reflect on her career and success before the MXGP Award celebration last Sunday.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since you won your fourth world title … has it sunk in yet?
I’ve spent two weeks with my best friend after the season touring Europe a bit; it’s something I never really get to do before. I don’t think it sunk in straight away in Turkey; it took some time but it’s slowly sinking in now. World title number four is really special – I’m not going to lie with this – so we’ll enjoy it for a couple of weeks and then get back to work.
Are you looking forward to going home to New Zealand soon to celebrate with family and friends?
Yes, that’s also really important. I’ve spent a huge amount of time preparing with my friends, my family and my team back home; they’re all really valuable and have played an important role, so to get back home and share this achievement with them is special too.
Could you ever have imagined such a successful career when you first started riding?
I haven’t even thought about it to be fair. Like I said four is really special but for me I want to win another four. When I can get this and one day I can hang up my boots I hope I can look back at my career and say it was a really good one.
What has been the most significant moment in your career?
Nobody can understand unless you have done it. Europe is a long way from home and when I left home at nineteen I packed a suitcase and my bags to travel to the other side of the world alone. You leave everything behind; you leave your comfort zone and you don’t know what you’re going to. It’s just a heavy learning curve with a whole different culture, tracks, way of life. It’s just a different world; there’s so much to learn and you only have a few opportunities to make it happen. You have to learn quickly; I feel like I adapted fast but at the same time I made a whole lot of mistakes along the way. It was not an easy transition but I guess you can say it has been successful in the end.
How would you compare your four titles?
The first one is always special and the way I was able to win my first championship too. It wasn’t just given to me; I really had to persevere. I was a kid that had so much talent and potential and for so many years I still didn’t make it happen. I felt the weight on my shoulders so when I could finally win that first title it was a whole lot of relief – I got the monkey off my back – so there will be nothing that will ever compare with that. But this number four is also very important; to come back after the collarbone injury was tough; I had to drive my programme to a new level this year and a whole amount of self-ambition and help went in there. When you’re able to cross the finish line it’s a proud moment and one when I could repay my family and everyone who has helped me. It was the first time my mom could be there to share it with me and that made it extra special and gave me a lot of satisfaction.
How important has Kawasaki been in your career?
Kawasaki has been a huge part of my career. I’ve been with them for five years now and we have won all four of my world titles together; that speaks for itself and I’ve had really good support along the way, both here in Europe and also back home in New Zealand. I hope to finish my career with Kawasaki and have many more successes in the future together.
Do you look to the records to become the most successful woman ever?
For sure it’s a dream, a goal, something I never dreamed of as a kid. When I started I thought let’s win one world title and see what happens. As you get further in the history books it plays a little part in your mind but I’m not a huge chaser on stats for their own sake; I just always want to win, and always want to do the best I can. I’ve obviously had success in my career but I just want to keep my guard up to what I achieve and I hope I can win many more GPs and titles in the future.
Born 26 January 1996 Palmerston, New Zealand
WMX career with Kawasaki:
2019 World champion with four GP victories and nine moto wins from five rounds
2020 World champion with three GP victories and five moto wins from five rounds
2021 World champion with three GP victories and five moto wins from six rounds
2022 broken collarbone at round two; two GP victories and three moto wins from three rounds
2023 World champion with four GP victories and six moto wins from six rounds
Cumulative total: four world titles in five years with sixteen GP victories and twenty-eight moto wins from twenty-five rounds