Courtney Duncan is ready to pick up the broken pieces of her world championship campaign and take on the world's elite again.
The 20-year-old is determined to start where she left off before her accident in May, and win on the Women's Motocross World Championships scene.
“My championship hopes are long gone,” said Duncan, who last week had a pin removed from her wrist.
She flew to Lommel, in Belgium, immediately after the procedure to begin preparations for round five in Switzerland on August 7.
“My physiotherapist has made a wrist brace for me and now I can't wait to get back on the bike again. My fitness is pretty good because I've been in the gym and cycling a lot over the past six weeks. I have not been riding the bike in about seven weeks, so that's want I need to do most.
“I've got two weeks or so before the GP in Switzerland, but I should be all good to go. I can't wait. It feels like I've been off the bike since forever.
“I'm not worried about where I finish up in the championship now. That's been ruined for me.
“It's all about setting myself up for next season now.”
A novice in the high-octane Grand Prix environment, the Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider from Palmerston, Otago, stunned the international motocross community when she scored back-to-back wins at the night-time series opener in Qatar in February. She backed that up by finishing second overall at round two in the Netherlands just a month later.
Duncan crashed in the first race in the deep Dutch sand but recovered to finish fourth – at that stage the only glitch in her campaign – and underlined her strength and speed by winning the next race, finishing a staggering 25 seconds ahead of French former world champion Livia Lancelot (Kawasaki). So, with three wins from four starts, Duncan led the championship by seven points from Lancelot, with Dutch Yamaha rider Nancy Van De Ven three points further back in third.
Duncan was sending ripples of panic through the competition and it had looked a mere formality that the rookie would impress again at the four rounds that were to follow.
But tragedy struck at round three in Germany in May.
Committed to a jump, the airborne Duncan clipped a photographer who was standing on the track and tumbled to the dirt. With her bike's handlebars bent, she battled on to finish 12th.
Her thumb and ankle were more seriously injured than first thought. Duncan was unable to start the next race and her championship hopes were in tatters. She returned home for immediate surgery and missed the next two rounds.
Duncan slipped from first to eighth while Lancelot took the lead, building a 24-point advantage over Van De Ven, with German Suzuki rider Larissa Papenmeier moving up to third.
She is still first-equal in number of race wins. She has won three of the five races she's started, as has Lancelot.
Van De Ven has also won three times from 10 starts.