The 2010 Women’s Motocross season is about to get in full swing and promises to be the most competitive season yet.
It’s that time again, time for the chill of spring to retreat and yield to the warmer winds of summer. Time to break out the lawn chairs and umbrellas and listen for the thunder of 4-strokes echoing through the hillsides; it’s time for the 2010 MotoUSA Women’s Motocross Championship Series!
Last year was an incredible year for the WMX ladies, not only in regards to racing but also in the new Saturday racing format. The Saturday schedule allowed the WMX to receive the attention it deserved by holding the women’s racing on the same day as the men’s. This milestone ushered the WMX into the public eye as a main attraction for the first time with increased media exposure. Finally, sponsors viewed women’s motocross as a viable marketing vehicle. This became evident as many more women riders are being signed onto factory and privateer teams. With better support comes better performance, and now that the ladies have access to factory parts. The WMX offers fans non-stop, action-packed racing at its best.
The 2009 season had some great racing, especially between 2008 champ Ashley Fiolek (1) and five-time WMA champion Jessica Patterson (250).
Fans were treated to an epic battle between Ashley Fiolek and Jessica Patterson in 2009. Two champions, one vying to keep her title and one trying to reclaim it. This heated rivalry continued throughout the entire season and resulted in some amazing racing. Numerous times we watched the two riders bang handlebars as they tried to overtake the lead. At Glen Helen, Fiolek got an early points lead by winning both motos. However, at Hangtown Patterson won her first moto of the season sending a message to Fiolek that she was not going to give up easily. The win reduced the points difference between the two riders to only 10. Unfortunately for Patterson, Fiolek would increase her overall lead by sweeping Freestone County Raceway in Texas and High Point Raceway in Pennsylvania. Finally at Washougal, Patterson earned her first win overall after a 2-1 finish. It was also at Washougal that Japanese Champion Haruna Masu went head-to-head against our leading US ladies. Masu claimed the MotorcycleUSA.com holeshot award but ultimately finished 6-5 earning her a respectable fourth overall.
Ashley Fiolek commented about her plans for keeping her Championship title in 2010.
“For 2010 I have changed a couple things but also kept a lot the same. I have tested a lot so I am more comfortable on my bike and I think both my on-the-bike and off-the-bike program is really good,” she said. “Of course I think this year is going to be exciting, the competition is going to be better than ever! I believe everyone is training really hard and I believe the fans will see the WMX reach a new level of racing. My strategy is to try and get good starts and let the race come to me. To win a championship you don’t need to win every moto or every round just be consistent and be on podium, so that is what I will try to do. Put in the work during the week and try my best on the weekend; that is all I can do.”
The highlight of the ’09 WMX season was the final round at Steel City, Pennsylvania. Both Sherri Cruse and Ashley Fiolek crashed hard on a jump in the first moto. Cruse’s crash resulted in a broken jaw and a shoulder injury that would prevent her from finishing the race. Fiolek’s crash resulted in a broken collarbone, but to the surprise of everyone in attendance she managed to get back on her bike and finish in 14th. The 14th position clinched the 2009 WMX Championship for the factory Honda rider with one moto still remaining in the season. This was huge as she was unable to ride the second moto.
MotorcycleUSA.com asked Jessica Patterson some questions on the upcoming 2010 season.
After a very close battle for the championship last year and missing the title by only five points, we can only imagine Jessica Patterson will be a dominating force in 2010.
MotoUSA: How have you been preparing for the WMX season?
Patterson: “I came back out to California to work with my trainer, Ryan Hughes. We have been working hard, riding and just getting prepared for the season. I signed with a new team this year, DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha and have done lots of testing and getting used to the new bikes. I really love them and I’m super excited for this year.”
MotoUSA: What is your strategy for getting on the podium?
Patterson: “I don’t know if I really have a strategy, but I do know I need to be on the podium every race in order to win the championship again. If I ride like I know how and just be smart about it all, it won’t be a problem. I have a great team behind me this year and I’m really motivated.”
While most of the spotlight was highlighting Fiolek and Patterson, veteran Sarah Whitmore seemed to be losing her edge. Throughout the season Whitmore just couldn’t catch a break. While her KTM appeared to be performing, the raw determination to win just didn’t translate in her racing. Thankfully at the final round at Steel City, Whitmore proved she still had what it takes with a 5-3 finish, placing her on the podium in third. Unfortunately it was too little too late as her points tally placed her in seventh for the season. Since the end of 2009, Whitmore has since been training hard in southern California and has hired a riding coach and a personal trainer in preparation for the 2010 season.
With a season of experience on her KTM and a first place performance in a recent Hare & Hound race, it would look like Whitmore will be a frequent podium finisher in 2010.
In a MotocycleUSA.com interview Whitmore commented: “Well I finished off last season on the podium, and I plan on staying up there. Last year was a bit of a struggle with just getting my bike a couple of weeks before the season started. But now I am fully adapted to my KTM and loving everything about it. I went through a rough patch for a while, but I shouldn’t have ever been off the podium. Now I am healthy, loving my bike and feeling a lot more confident. I hope that’s the key to getting back up there.”
Along with seasoned veterans, the 2009 WMX season also brought some new names to the field. These included Vicki Golden, Sara Price and Elizabeth Bash. Golden surprisingly took a 3-2 finish at Hangtown which landed her third place as a rookie! At the end of the season the rookie finished sixth overall. But it was Cruse who stunned the crowd with her consistent podium finishes. Even though her injury at Steel City prevented her from finishing the motos, she finished third overall for the season. Lap after lap Cruse fought hard against Fiolek and Patterson and for the majority of the races always landed in the top five.
Finishing third in points for 2009, Sherri Cruse has been training in the off-season to take on WMA champions Fiolek and Patterson.
“Early in the season I did Supercross camp with several privateer racers,” explained Cruse. “After that I have been swimming, running, biking and strength training several days a week and training on the track several days a week. I got on the podium several times last year so I know what it takes, but this year I feel like I am in a better position. I have a great bike from Suzuki City Nitro Circus Team and have had a lot more seat time than I did last year. I have really been focusing on my mental game and I plan on getting a good start and riding strong the whole moto.”
If 2009 is any indication of what’s to come in the 2010 season you can bet that there’s going to be some exciting racing. Will the current champion, Fiolek continue her reign of racing dominance? Will Patterson unseat Fiolek on her new DNA Shred Stix Yamaha? Will Cruse’s training payoff and topple the two leading ladies? Only time will tell. So pack up the lawn chairs, grab the sunblock and see for yourself. The action begins in less than two weeks! Round 1 – Hangtown, Sacramento California. See ya at the races!