The New Zealander and her arch-rival from Italy once again dominated Qualification with lap times two seconds faster than the opposition and they immediately raced clear in the opening moto, Duncan’s rival throwing caution to the wind to take over the lead halfway round the opening lap after the Kawasaki girl had claimed the holeshot award. The duo set an electric pace, eventually coming home forty-four seconds clear of even third place, and were almost literally tied together for the entire twenty-five minute race with never more than two seconds between them. Duncan showed that she was the fastest with lap times dipping into the 1-54 bracket on a clear track but overtaking had already proven difficult when the girls raced at the track for the first time on Saturday and the minor changes to the obstacles did not make passing any easier for the second visit. The duel became even more intense as the duo came up to lap even the girls battling for the lower point-scoring positions and each of the leaders was hindered at times through the final three laps. The action became even more frantic on the final lap and the two leaders touched wheels a couple of times as they vied for the same space between the slower riders; on the final surge towards the finishing line Duncan edged alongside but her rival closed the door at the final jump to take victory by the narrowest of margins – five-hundredths of a second – as they crossed the line side-by-side. The second race was equally exciting. Courtney gated third but was already through to second behind her main rival halfway round the opening lap; there was never more than a couple of seconds between them through the first half of the race and, with the race headed into the final stages, the Kawasaki girl started to build her challenge. Then, with just five laps remaining, a momentarily lapse saw her slip off and lose thirteen seconds. Most competitors would simply have accepted second place but the Kiwi girl is made of sterner stuff. Posting a series of records laps she pulled alongside two turns from the finish but her rival had the inside line and just held off the determined New Zealander. Second on the day Courtney maintains her series lead by nine points with two GPs remaining next month on further hard-pack tracks in Spain and Italy. Her performance also ensured that Kawasaki remain securely ahead by the same margin in the FIM Manufacturers’ World Championship standings.
Courtney Duncan: “It was frustrating but I’m never going to give up. I just made a silly little mistake in that second race, but hats off to Kiara and I can’t be disappointed with the effort I put in. I pushed to the finish but just came up a little short; that’s how it is sometimes. There’s two races to go and we have the red plate. We’ll continue to work and don’t need to change anything. The speed is good; we just need to keep on these waves. Onward and upwards! “
Amandine Verstappen once again impressed on the 9MM Energy Drink BUD Racing Kawasaki. Seventh in Qualification, she quickly secured sixth place in the opening moto, took over fifth after eleven minutes and, with solid lap times throughout the moto, was closing rapidly on the girl ahead through the final laps to finish just two seconds shy of fourth. In a repeat of her first start on Saturday the Belgian overshot the first turn in race two and was down in eleventh place at the end of lap one but she continued to push to reach eighth by half-distance, taking over seventh four laps from the end to secure sixth overall on the day and advance to the same ranking in the series points chase.
Amandine Verstappen: “I’m pretty happy with my lap times and races but the results were not as good as on Saturday due to my starts. The lap times were really close during the timed practice period and I was in the same second as the fourth-best time with seventh. My first start was average but I came back to fifth, really close to van de Ven and Papenmeier. What can we say about my second start? The start is so important now that when you finish the opening lap in eleventh position you can’t fight for a podium. I found some good lines; most of the girls took the inside lines in the corners and I had to go outside to make some passes and come back to seventh. Now we have to return home quickly as next weekend we have the French Championship at St Jean d’Angely."