What’s happening in the world of WMX

Its been a different world championship for us all in 2020. Calendar changes, a full on lockdown and then back to racing after weeks off- here’s a quick roundup of what’s happened this year ahead of the final round at the end of the month for the Women at MXGP.

The usual 6 round world championship was reduced to 5 rounds this year. The first two rounds, Matterley and Valkenswaard were luckily on the original planned calendar before Covid fully hit and were able to be raced before the strict lockdown and long waited out 29-week ‘break’. A big change this year at round 3 and 4 in Mantova was the 2-day break in between races, a first for rounds to be so close together. Big props to the MXGP organizers for keeping the calendar going and pivoting in such unusual times to keep the world championship alive and strong.

Larissa Papenmeier #423 celebrates with Nancy Van de Ven #85

WMX 2020 Race Schedule:

Round 1- Matterley Basin, Great Britain 29 February- 1 March

Round 2- Valkenswaard, Netherlands 7-8 March

Round 3- Mantova, Italy 26-27 September

Round 4- Mantova, Italy 29-30 September

Round 5- Trentino, Italy 31 October- 1 November

Round 1: Matterley Basin

A very muddy and challenging track on both Saturday and Sunday. Race 1 saw Elisa Galvagno with the holeshot, Amandine Verstappen, Courtney Duncan and Sara Andersen close behind and all charging to the front early in the race. A few corners into race 1 and Courtney Duncan made her way into the lead, with Nancy Van De Ven charging hard behind her in second. Kiara Fontanesi found herself in 19th position at the end of lap 1 but managed to carve her way through the pack and find herself in the top 5 quickly during the race. Van de Ven made a pass on Duncan and while in the lead went for the uphill triple and cased it going down. Duncan setting the fastest lap of the race went into the lead quickly after that, winning race 1 with an impressive 11.5 second lead.

Race 2 saw Van De Ven get a good start, right next to Duncan, closely followed by Valk and Papenmeier. Kiara found herself in 18th after the start, both starts of the day forcing her to do quite a bit of catch-up work and salvage as many points as possible. With Courtney Duncan in the lead, Yamaha riders Larissa Papenmeier and Lynne Valk followed closely behind. Towards the end of the race, Duncan had been caught by Papenmeier with the gap being less than 1 second apart however Duncan once again finished strong and victorious, with a 5 second gap between herself and Papenmeier.

Overall results: (1st) Courtney Duncan, (2nd) Larissa Papenmeier, (3rd) Kiara Fontanesi.

Defending champion and redplate holder after round 1, Courtney Duncan

Round 2: Valkenswaard

Van de Ven gets race 1 holeshot, with Papenmeier and Duncan almost going down and Fontanesi capitalizing. Fontanesi quickly made her way to the front, passing Van de Ven the hometown favorite, and Papenmeier sitting comfortably in third with Duncan behind her not at home in the deep Dutch sand. The deep and rough sandy ruts and back-markers caught Kiara out, allowing Nancy to get close but not enough to make the pass. Last lap dices saw this happen again allowing Van de Ven and Papenmeier in, all three contending for first place. A close race 1 resulted in Fontanesi winning, Van de Ven second place and Papenmeier third.

Race 2 saw a determined Papenmeier grab the holeshot, Duncan second and race 1 winner Fontanesi in about 9th position. A much better second race for Duncan being in second majority of the race until Van de Ven made a quick pass but later made a small mistake and allowed Duncan to capitalize again. Extremely close racing between these two on the last lap with Duncan finishing second ahead of Van de Ven in third.

Overall results: (1st) Larissa Papenmeier (2nd) Kiara Fontanesi (3rd) Nancy Van de Ven

Winner of round 2 in Valkenswaard, Larissa Papenmeier

Round 3: Mantova

Sara Andersen of Denmark made it first to turn one with Lynn Valk going down in turn one and Nancy Van de Ven going into the back of her. Duncan quickly made her way into the lead passing Andersen. A good battle for second between Fontanesi and Andersen making a few passes between each other, a little fall from Fontanesi took them both down. Some good mid moto battles were had between Britt Jans-Beken and Van de Ven with Nancy getting through. Fontanesi charged throughout, picking away at the riders and finishing a strong third place with Papenmeier in second and Duncan winner of race 1.

Race 2 saw Nancy van de Ven come swinging out the gates making up for race 1 and Fontanesi stall on the start! Van de Ven got a comfortable lead followed by Sara Andersen and Courtney Duncan who later had an unfortunate end to the race after a big crash on a table top with the left side of her handle bar being badly bent, leaving her unable to finish the race. This means that Courtney Duncan lost the championship lead by a massive 14 points. Kiara quickly charged her way through the field managing to make her way to a respective fifth place. Papenmeier had a solid weekend going 2-2 and also getting the overall, back to back from Valkenswaard to Mantova.

Overall results: (1st) Larissa Papenmeier, (2nd) Nancy Van de Ven, (3rd) Kiara Fontanesi.

Championship contender, Kiara Fontanesi with a solid performance at round 3 in Mantova

Round 4: Mantova

Courtney Duncan and Nancy Van de Ven with the good starts followed closely by Kiara Fontanesi and Larissa Papenmeier. Nancy quickly made her way to the front followed by Kiara with Courtney trying to close in on Larissa. Kiara closed in on Nancy during the race, even with a close moment between the two over a table-top jump and Kiara making her way to the front just after some close racing. Duncan sitting closely in third place. Fontanesi crossed the line 1.6 seconds ahead of Van de Ven in second and Duncan in third.

Courtney Duncan and Larissa Papenmeier were side by side in the front of the second start. Duncan emerged in front, with Van de Ven quickly making her way to second. Fontanesi capitalized on a mistake from Papenmeier and got herself into third position. Some good, close racing between Fontanesi and Van de Ven fighting for second position and even banging bars. A small crash from Fontanesi let Van de Ven away but luckily Fontanesi lost no positions. Duncan was the winner with a whopping 19 second lead! Followed by Van de Ven second and Fontanesi third.

Overall results: (1st) Courtney Duncan, (2nd) Nancy Van de Ven, (3rd) Kiara Fontanesi.

Kiara Fontanesi and Larissa Papenmeier on the podium, both fighting for the championship

Current championship standings: Nancy Van de Ven (166 pts), Courtney Duncan (162 pts), Larissa Papenmeier (160 pts).

Nancy is the current championship leader heading into the last round, with points being very close. Its going to be an interesting last round in Italy. Nancy is on a high after a solid performance in Mantova and determined for her first title, Courtney claimed critical championship points with a redemption ride at round 4 compared to round 3, don’t count Larissa out on a solid performance always and Kiara is right there, hungry and a hometown favorite. Catch all the action 31st October and 1st November!

Words: Brittany Cuthbert / Images: Conway MX Photography