A non-Courtney Duncan-like weekend in Italy has the Kiwi motocross rider sixth in the women’s world championship after round one.
Duncan finished third and ninth from the two races around the Mantova circuit.
Initially, Duncan looked to have kicked off 2022 as she meant to continue.
The three-time world champion was fourth fastest in the timed practice session and got the holeshot to lead the opening stages of race one.
However, Duncan couldn’t convert on her early lead and slipped into the clutches of Dutch rider Lynn Valk.
Valk skidded past Ducan on lap two into a hairpin coming off a jump as the Kiwi struggled on the landing.
Duncan lost another position to Nancy van de Ven, her title rival from last season, three laps later.
Duncan would stay on the tail of van de Ven for the rest of the race but would be kept at bay until the chequered flag.
Race two was essentially done for Duncan by turn one, lap one.
A fall meant she slumped to the back of the field.
She did remount and put in a solid recovery effort, charging from 26th to finish ninth, but a win for van de Ven and a P2 result for Valk has Duncan a fair way down on points.
The good news is she now has a month’s pause to recover and reflect on the weekend before round two in Portugal on April 3.
Plus, the last two times the series has visited the Águeda circuit, Duncan has been unbeatable.