Round one of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship took place alongside the opening round of the MXGP and MX2 World Championships at the storm-battered Matterley Basin venue in Winchester, England.
The usually spectacular circuit presented challenging conditions after torrential rain on Friday drenched the venue and caused Infront Moto Racing, the series promoters, to revise the program for Saturday 29th February.
As a result, the WMX ladies' time on track was reduced to one 25-minute session which determined the order in which the riders went to the gate for the championship races.
YZ250F mounted Nancy van de Ven set the pace in Qualifying Practice with a lap time that was 0.2 seconds quicker than the six-time WMX World Champion Kiara Fontanesi and 0.8 quicker than Papenmeier in third, while young Dutch rider Lynn Valk rounded out the top-five as the third quickest Yamaha rider.
In wet, slippery and incredibly challenging conditions, the girls got off to decent starts in Race 1. Valk was initially the best placed YZ250F rider but before the end of Lap-1, it was van de Ven who had power-surged to the front of the pack and stretched out an impressive 3-second lead over the defending World Champion Courtney Duncan. On Lap-3 van de Ven crashed while battling for the lead which allowed Duncan and her Dutch compatriot, Valk, to capitalize.
Valk went on to post a career-best result, third ahead of Papenmeier who started fifth and struggled for clear vision for the entire race after she pulled off all of her tear-offs on the first lap.
Papenmeier benefitted from van de Ven’s errors and finished fourth 48-seconds ahead of van de Ven who put in a hard-fought ride for fifth.
In contrast to the sloppy conditions of Race 1 on Saturday, the second race on Sunday was a lot drier but still difficult to navigate due to the weight of the dirt from the rain days prior.
In true van de Ven fashion, the ‘85’ got off to an incredible start and put pressure on Duncan for the lead before making a mistake that would see Papenmeier take over the second position. Van de Ven remained third for the remainder of the 20-minute race, while Papenmeier was forced to settle for second after a thrilling battle for the lead.
Valk put in another stellar ride for fifth, which meant she tied on 36-points in the overall classification with van de Ven. Papenmeier uncorked her first bottle of champagne in 2020 with 40-points on the second step of the podium, while both van de Ven and Valk were slightly disappointed to narrowly miss the third step by 1-point.
The next round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship will take place next weekend in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands on March 8th.