Moto Media
James Stewart

Duncan and Natzke claim NZ MX titles for Yamaha

Otago’s Courtney Duncan is the new National Motocross Champion in the 13-16 years’ 85cc class.

She was ranked world No.6 when she beat most of the best young men on the planet at the 85cc world championships in 2009, and the 15-year-old blonde has won numerous women’s motocross titles too, on both sides of the Tasman. But, when the Year 11 pupil from East Otago High School in Palmerston wrapped up her first New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships title in Tokoroa on Easter Sunday, it was one of the sweetest moments of her glittering career.

Duncan came close to winning the 13-16 years’ 85cc class last year, in the end forced to settle for runner-up spot behind Rangiora’s Micah McGoldrick, but this time there was almost no stopping her.

She won four out of five races at the three-day event during the Easter holiday weekend and, if it weren’t for a couple of slip-ups on a freshly-watered track, she could have taken her Backflips, Sportspro and GMD-sponsored Yamaha YZ85 to an amazing clean sweep of wins. She crashed while leading main rival Chase Smith, of Kumeu, in the penultimate race of the championship, remounted the bike and caught back up to him. Then she fell again. Although Duncan again fought back to close in on Smith for a second time, she ran out of laps and had to settle for second spot.

Always a fighter, Duncan was determined not to let that set-back ruin her weekend and she shot out of the start gate and never looked back in the fifth and final race. Her winning margin was an incredible 32 seconds over Smith.

Courtney Duncan:  "The track was soo slippery ... it was hard to push. I really wanted to top it all off with a good win in the last race. I wanted to finish the championship on a high. I’ve won titles at major events like the Woodville Motocross and at the national TT championships, but never at the Motocross Nationals, so this victory is pretty special to me.”

She said she has plans to race overseas later in the year but "that is still in the planning stage”.

Hamilton’s Josiah Natzke, #342, takes the holeshot above on the way to adding another national title to his credit. The 12-year-old entered two classes at this season’s New Zealand Junior Motocross in Tokoroa over the weekend and came away victorious in the 11 to 12 years 85cc class.

Natzke (Waikato Yamaha YZ85) simply blew away his rivals in the 11-12 years’ 85cc class over the weekend, winning four of his five races. He probably would have made it a clean sweep if he hadn’t made an uncharacteristic error and crashed while leading in that only race he didn’t win.

He still picked himself up and raced back to second spot, giving him a final tally that was a comfortable nine points better than his nearest rival, Australian visitor Hunter Lawrence.

That he should win this class for a second consecutive season was probably no real surprise. What was amazing was that he also took a slightly-modified Yamaha YZ85 – bored out to 105cc – to tackle the 12-14 years’ 125cc class as well.

Even as one of the smallest and youngest riders in that class, and with a big horsepower handicap, Natzke still impressed.  He finished 8-4-7-6-6 in his five 125cc class outings, ending the weekend 6th overall in the 26-rider field.

Josiah Natzke:  "I just wanted to race two classes because I love the sport soo much. I was getting good starts all weekend and there really wasn’t a lot less power in my bike when up against the 125cc riders. The only problem I had was that the wheels were a bit smaller than the true 125cc bikes and so the deep ruts were a problem. I had to find different lines to the 125cc riders.”

Edited copy courtesy of Yamaha-Motor NZ, written by Andy McGechan
Photos courtesy of Guy Maxwell (MadMax on Facebook) - website under construction