The twists and turns of fortune

By David Thomson on Sat, 23 Sep 2017

Surely she was robbed.

Whether by the cruel misfortunes of racing or by interpretations of the rule book is a moot point, but either way it's hard not feel a sense of injustice around Courtney Duncan being denied the women's motocross world championship crown after last weekend's season finale in France.

Regardless, I surely speak for all in Otago's motorsport fraternity in saying that we are immensely proud of what the East Otago rider has accomplished in her 2017 world championship season. Equally, I am sure she has what it takes to bounce back in 2018, and earn the world crown she so obviously deserves.

Duncan isn't the only one whose title hopes now rest on a future year after last weekend's results.

Scott Dixon is now focused on bidding for a fifth Indycar title in 2018 after failing to deny Josef Newgarden his maiden Indycar championship win at last weekend's championship finale. There was no real controversy about this result though; Newgarden and his Penske team have been a class act on the Indycar circuit all season, and the American racer ends the season with four race wins, which is twice the tally of any other driver.

One imagines Sebastian Vettel has also reset his sights this week after a calamitous Singapore Grand Prix in which he and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen retired, after Raikkonen collided with Red Bull's Max Verstappen and then Vettel in a madcap dash for the first corner.

With that double retirement and a win for Lewis Hamilton, it's Hamilton who sits firmly in the box seat.

Rather closer to home, the Ashley Forest Rallysprint passed largely unnoticed by the mainstream media last weekend, but is worthy of acknowledgement here for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, Otago's Chris Hey - a long-time class winner at Ashley in his Toyota MR2 - broke the late Kim Austin's long-standing two- wheel drive run for the event, stopping the clocks at 1min 2.15sec in his final run. He claimed 12th overall as well as the 2WD class win.

Though he eventually finished behind Hey in 13th, Bruce Saxton looked capable of making the final eight in his Mitsubishi Evo. Fellow Dunedin-based Evo driver Mike Wellington should at least have made the top- 16, too but was sidelined by a broken axle in the top-32 elimination runs.

Wellington's demise came soon after hot- favourite and early frontrunner Hayden Paddon was forced out by an engine problem. With Paddon reduced to being a spectator, Rotorua's Sloan Cox dominated the final rounds, becoming the first driver to break the 55-second barrier at Ashley before going on beat Rangiora's Matt Summerfield in the final.

David Thomson