Let me begin here by saying that I am a big fan of the WMA (Women’s Motocross Association)! I have been around the pro motocross block a few times now, and can sincerely say that quite often, the WMA rounds have provided some of the best racing that I have seen in my over 10 years of travelling around America for AMA Pro Motocross. While certainly there are many competitive girls, 18-year-old Floridian Ashley Fiolek is the newest superstar. Winning last year’s WMA Pro Championship in her debut season (she did race the final round in 2007 at the last race in 2007 – taking fifth overall on a 125 two-stroke), Ashley is already an icon in motocross. Now, as a full-on member of the Red Bull Honda Factory race team, Ashley is busy preparing to defend her title in 2009. I was able to catch up with Ashley, who in case you didn’t know, is completely deaf, as she finished up a day of testing – only 24 hours after finishing second overall at round two of the FIM WMX Championship race in Portugal. On a final note; if you are attending any of the 2009 WMA rounds I urge you to sign hello to Ashley, or say hi to her parent’s Roni and Jim; this family is one of the nicest in racing!
Ashley, first things first; congratulations on finishing second in Portugal. Although I believe that your main focus is on the upcoming WMA Championships, so can you talk for a minute about racing the World Motocross Championships - why do it?
Ashley is the rising star in women's motocross. The Red Bull Honda rider is becoming the face of the sport in America.
Thank you Jim! :) I really like to race the World Championship Women’s rounds because the tracks are always so rough, and it is just a totally different experience. It is fun to travel there, and to ride with the European girls. Along with simply enjoying it, I also thought it would help me to get ready for the WMA championships. I might race all of the World Championship rounds at some time; I am just not sure when. It would depend on my contracts, and if my sponsors would be alright with it because it seems there are always conflicts with the racing over here.
How would you rate the competition in Europe versus here in the states?
I think America is pretty much the same as over there. Although over in Europe the tracks seem to be rougher than here, and the moto’s are longer, so your endurance needs to be good! There is also always a full gate of fast girls because they are coming from all over Europe, not just one country - so that is also different than over here.
Any other major differences with racing in Europe?
Yes, they never fix the track after the practices; they just leave it that way for all the races, so it gets pretty rough - although they do fix the faces of the jumps so it is not too dangerous. As I said, they have longer moto’s, which is wonderful, and I think there is more of a celebration for podium’s, and more press and attention – which is pretty nice.
How have you found your competitors in Europe - are they friendly?
Yes, I would say all the girls in Europe are super nice, and very fun to hang out with. I think because they have these media/press days before the race that it gives you a chance to get to know each other, and have fun without the stress of it being race day!
Of the girls there, I would say that I know Livia Lancelot the best; she is an awesome rider, and an amazing friend. We will goof around together, but when the gate drops, it's all business. If we hit each other on the track or something it is all a part of the race. When the race is done we congratulate each other; it’s really cool to race against someone who’s my main competition - and yet a good friend.
Let's move to the WMA series and talk about last year....everyone knew that you would be fast and competitive right away, but did you expect to dominate as you did?
Lady racers seem to have as much or more camaraderie and friendships with their competitors.
Well Jim, I don't think I exactly dominated! Things have to fall into place when you are racing a series, too. At the beginning of the season I was just going to try, and be on the podium as much as I could; then after Hangtown I had a lot of confidence - I just kept trying to do my best and give it my all!
Of course we would not expect you to give any secrets away, but what do you do differently, or better than your competition?
Gee I am not sure Jim...I know I have pretty good endurance, so maybe that is it? Getting a good start is always helpful too!
What are your thoughts on "defending" your championship as opposed to "winning" as you did last year?
I try to not think about anything that happened last year. Now it is a new year, and I am going to give it all my best, just like last year - well maybe I’ll try and give it more! I know that all of the girls have been working so hard - as I have as well. It’s going be good racing for sure, and I am really looking forward to it!
At this time, just before the first round; who do you feel will be your primary competition?
I would have to say everyone! Every girl is always out there trying to win; especially the top finishing girls from last year like Jessica (Patterson), of course and Tarah Gieger, Sherri Cruz, and Sarah (Whitmore) - everyone will be giving 110%. Also there will be a few new girls to the WMA series...
What if you win the title again; will you target any other goals?
The factory ride with Honda is a landmark for women.
Yes, I always have goals; like to be able to do a full World MX Championship series. And I would just love to try to qualify for men's pro for sure! I’ve been working so hard to race with the men, but I'm going to wait until I know I am ready for sure for any of that - I guess I will just have to wait and see where things take me!
This year you will be a full Factory Red Bull Honda Racing rider; how has that affected your program?
Oh man, I love my team! I still cannot believe that I am a part of the Factory team now; it is so cool! It is a lot more testing and doing different things then I am used to, but I can't wait to race the new bikes.
Are there any other events that you have signed up for this summer?
Just the X-Games and WMA series for now, although maybe one more European race - I am not sure.
Didn’t you recently get nominated for an award?
Ashley's father, Jim, is always on hand to assist and lend a guiding hand in his daughter's career.
Yes, I was nominated for a Purple Trailblazer award for the Deaf community – it is pretty cool!
Finally Ashley, who do you want to thank?
Of course God, my parents and my little brother, my mechanic C-wolf (Cody Wolf), American Honda/ Red Bull Racing, Alpinestars, Red Bull, T-mobile Sidekick, Vans, Smith Optics, Airoh, Leatt, and Robb at MotoEndurance.Net