Everyone expected 2009 title holder, Ashley Fiolek, to sweep Hangtown, but things didn’t go so easily after finishing third overall.
The WMX season opener at Hangtown was anything but predictable. Last year’s favorite, Ashley Fiolek, was expected to pick up where she left off in 2009. She’d been training hard during the off-season and her factory Red Bull Honda was tuned and ready for action. As the gate fell in Moto 1, Fiolek exploded off the line and claimed the MotorcycleUSA.com holeshot award followed closely by Jessica Patterson. Fiolek’s lead wouldn’t last as Patterson on her new DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha managed to pass Fiolek early in the race and extend an 11-second lead over the other racers.
As Patterson raced unchallenged, the fight for second and third position took place between Fiolek and Tarah Geiger. Eventually Geiger overtook the factory rider on her Troy Lee Designs Honda and managed to fend off Fiolek for second place. When the checkered flag flew it was JP, Geiger and Fiolek on the podium with Vicki Golden fourth and Alexah Pearson in fifth.
In Moto 2 as the 30-second board dropped and engines roared it was Patterson who launched off the line first and grabbed the Motorcycle-USA.com holeshot. Fiolek followed in her wake but just couldn’t catch the Star Racing Yamaha as Patterson once again opened up a comfortable 11-second lead and rode unchallenged for the remainder of the race. Mid-race, Motoconcepts Yamaha rider Mariana Balbi
Jessica Patterson looks to be the racer to beat after going unchallanged in both motos for a perfect sweep.
managed to overtake several riders and land in third position and began putting pressure on Fiolek. Patterson topped the podium with Fiolek and Balbi, Elizabeth Bash finished fourth and Alexah Pearson in fifth.
Now the ladies head to Freestone County Raceway in the Lone Star State. In the past, Freestone has been a notoriously difficult track to race as riders face a technical layout combined with fierce heat and humidity. Racers need to be in top condition to not only fend off exhaustion but also heat stroke and dehydration. Last year, Freestone favored Fiolek as she swept the podium. In Moto 1, Fiolek’s lead was a mere 0.662 seconds over Patterson. Patterson has struggled at this race so it will be interesting to see how her new Yamaha handles the tough Texas track.
One rider who performed exceptionally well in 2009, but was missing from the Hangtown lineup was Sherri Cruse. Last year at Freestone, Sherri finished 3-2 for second overall. Unfortunately, Cruse crashed in practice at Hangtown injuring
her wrist. At Hangtown it was unknown whether her wrist was broken but after an emergency room visit it was determined that there is no breakbroken. Unfortunately significant swelling and pain is preventing Cruse from racing Freestone this year. Her hopes are that she will rejoin the series at Thunder Valley in Denver, CO. Last year’s rookie, Golden, and newcomer Pearson are two riders to keep an eye on. Pearson pulled a solid fifth at Hangtown in her rookie season and all hopes are that her riding success continues.
Racers and fans are going to be put to the ultimate test this weekend as the weather forecast for Saturday’s race is predicted to be in the low 100s! Round 2 is just days away and as race nears the anticipation grows. Can Patterson overcome her past troubles with the Texas track and continue her winning streak? Can Fiolek regain her footing and reclaim the podium? There are more questions than answers, but one thing is for sure, the WMX will leave you standing on your feet screaming for your favorite rider to push it just a little bit harder. It’s passion that keeps this sport alive; so grab your umbrella, load up on the sun block and make sure you drink plenty of water. Freestone is going to be a scorcher in more ways than one!