Amandine Verstappen took fourth place in the opening round of the FIM World WMX Women’s Motocross Championship as a first corner collision restricted defending champion Courtney Duncan to sixth.

Verstappen was in excellent form all weekend on her 9MM Energy Drink BUD Racing Kawasaki at Mantova in northern Italy as she moved into fourth on the second lap of Saturday afternoon’s first moto and maintained that position to the finish of the twenty-minute-plus-two-lap race. Pushed wide in the hectic first turn of the second race on Sunday morning the Belgian found herself ninth at the completion of the first lap but moved decisively into the top six by the fifth lap and kept pushing to take over fifth three laps later, thus securing fourth overall, just two points shy of the podium, over the weekend.
Amandine Verstappen: “It was a good weekend. I had a good feeling already during the free practice session but was more stressed in the timed practice period. In the first race I had a good start in third but during the first lap van de Ven went straight and I had to brake so I lost two positions. I was pleased with my speed as I came back to fourth. My second start wasn’t so bad but in the second straight line another girl hit me and again I had to brake; I was tenth or eleventh and came back fifth. I’m disappointed to miss the podium by just two points after two strong races. I feel much stronger physically as I have worked hard with my trainer all winter; he knows me really well and it was great to be back working with him.”
Duncan had a tough weekend in her first race for four months on the Big Van World MTX Kawasaki. The New Zealander rode a smart tight inside-line through the awkward opening turn to holeshot race one but was clearly riding a little tight just four days after flying from the other side of the globe. She surrendered the lead when she ran wide in a turn at the start of lap two and dropped to third mid-moto, but she regrouped strongly in the closing laps, narrowly failing to regain second by less than a third of a second. The second race was even tougher as she fell after tangling with another rider entering the first turn and faced a long hard ride through the thirty-five-rider strong field with her gloves and handlebars covered in mud. Twenty-sixth at the end of the opening lap she was into the points-scoring positions before the end of the second lap and broke into the top ten by half-distance but the field was spread out by then with the next girl ahead of her ten seconds clear. However, she persisted to take over ninth three laps from the end and narrowly come short of eighth at the chequered flag. Her efforts secured sixth overall; five rounds of the series remain for the defending champion to recoup her fifteen point deficit to the points-leader.
Courtney Duncan: “It was a difficult weekend to say the least; not how we wanted to start off but I didn’t arrive back in Europe until this week, had no time on the race bike and came in a little unprepared. Yesterday was solid in the circumstances; I was just a little rusty. Today was an upward battle after the crash at turn one. But it is how it is. We’ve got this weekend over and done with; now we go back to the UK and get stuck in with the team to prepare for round two next month. “
The next round of the WMX series is at Agueda in Portugal on April 2/3.