It’s often been said that defending a title is twice as difficult as winning the first, and Honda Red Bull Racing’s Ashley Fiolek is learning exactly what that means in 2010. The first three rounds of the Women’s Motocross Championship series dealt discouraging blows to the confidence of the defending champ, as series rival Jessica Patterson had her number en route to six straight moto wins.
Down, but certainly not out, Fiolek brought gritty determination, drive, and her infectious championship spirit into the gates at RedBud for round number four of the series, and went on to lead every lap as she triumphed to impressive back-to-back moto wins for her first overall victory of the season. We sat down with Ashley shortly after RedBud’s podium celebration to get her take on the series thus far, and to find out if a second-straight championship is still within reach.
Congratulations on your win at RedBud. That has to feel amazing after finishing runner-up for three straight events…
Thank you! Yes, it does feel incredible. Jessica is a great rider, but that doesn’t make it any easier to lose races to her. This win is great for my confidence, so I feel like it’s a whole new series now.
You seemed to have a much easier go at things during the 2009 WMX series. What has changed this year that has made it so much more difficult to beat Jessica?
JP has been working very hard this year, and she’s not the type to give up. She’s the five-time champ for a reason, so I knew she was going to be very tough going into the series. I’ve been working hard as well, but maybe I just wasn’t quite ready at the beginning of the year. I’ve been changing some things in my program though, and I’ve been working really hard and have a lot of great people supporting me. Jessica is here for one reason, and she’s not going to give up. We’re the same in that sense… We’re both very competitive.
Physically, you’re smaller than she is, and the tracks have been extremely rough this year. Does that make it more difficult to beat her?
Yeah, I think so, but that’s just a part of it. It just means that I have to train harder. Being physically stronger might be an advantage for her, but I just put in the extra work and try not to think about it. No excuses. The RedBud track was really rough, but I think I showed that I can still compete for the win. JP rode really well, too. I think we put on a good race for the fans, and more importantly showed that the girls can handle the rough tracks.
Have track conditions altered your training program at all this year?
I’ve added some workouts to my schedule, but in general I’m just trying to go back to basics right now. We tried a few new things in my program that really weren’t working out like I’d hoped, but I feel like we have a good combination now. It’s really important on these rough tracks to be prepared mentally. You can’t just come in here and think you can coast, because it’s going to be a fight until the end. I felt really good at RedBud - despite the conditions - so I’m going to keep working hard and we’ll see what happens at Millville.
You’ve got X Games coming up as well. Do you enjoy that event?
Yes, I’m really excited! X Games is a huge event, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of! It’s really cool to be surrounded by all of the mainstream media and all of the other athletes. We don’t get that all the time at our normal events.
[The Spring Creek National in] Millville is kind of in the middle this year, though, so it’s going to be tough. Last year, we had a month to get ready for X, but this year it’s broken up. We’ll be training for motocross and Supercross all at once, so it will be a challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it.
You got hurt two years ago while preparing for X Games. Has that made you nervous to introduce Supercross training into your program mid-season, or are you more comfortable with the transition now?
I’m definitely more comfortable now, and a lot of that has to do with the trust I have in my suspension. The Honda Red Bull Racing team provides me with way better suspension than what I had two years ago when I got hurt. Last year, I didn’t even know how to do the triples heading into X Games, but I prepared for it, my bike worked great, and I was able to figure it all out come race time. I think it will be a little bit easier this year, but it’s still tough. At X Games, we’re given a lot of practice time on the track, so that definitely helps.
You still have four rounds left in the WMX championship series. What’s it going to take to get back into the title hunt?
It’s going to be tough, but I feel like I’m right there. Anything can happen in motocross, so you just have to put in your very best effort and see where the results fall. I think I proved that I have what it takes to win, so it’s all about getting up front and giving it my all. There’s still a lot of racing to do, but I like my chances [smiles].