CATCHING UP WITH ASHLEY FIOLEK
By Steve “I put the EMT in” Emter
After cruising to the WMA National Championship in her rookie year and becoming the first profoundly Deaf rider to earn a National Motocross Championship, 18-year-old Ashley Fiolek made more history by becoming the first woman in the history of the sport to be signed to a full-factory ride. Now a member of the Red Bull Honda squad, Fiolek is ready to defend her number-one plate, which is now mounted to a factory Honda CRF250R. We ran into Fiolek at Perris Raceway, where she and her mechanic Cody Wolf were spending a warm California afternoon putting in some practice laps.
So you’ve been in California for a few days now to get started on testing with Team Honda. What are your first impressions of your new factory bike?
I couldn’t believe how fast my bike is, everything about my new factory bike is amazing. I am really happy that I am getting a chance to race a factory bike! It is big difference between my regular stock Honda; the one I raced last year at WMA races. They set up many things differently than my stock Honda and I could tell it was shorter when I first got on my new factory bike. I am really happy with my whole team who put a lot works to make my new bikes! Thanks to them.
The first time you rode the bike, it was already lowered and everything? Maybe they used the tricks from when RC rode Hondas…
Yeah, they already lowered and set up for me and they knew how to set it up for a short rider since they had RC on Hondas a few years ago, so they just copied his set up from before. I was pumped to hear that because it is cool to know that my bike is almost like RC’s bikes. I really like the way it’s lower, because I get way more comfortable when I can handle the bike better!
Last year, you raced on what was essentially a stock motor with a pipe. How does a factory motor compare? Are the rest of the WMA girls going to be hating it now?
Yes, just like I say my factory motor is insanely fast! I was pumped how it worked so from the first time I rode it. I never rode a modified 250f before. Well, I did ride the TransWorld MDK bike and I hatred it. Sorry! I hope the WMA girls won’t be hating it because I am on a factory bike! I think it is a great opportunity for them because now I am sure there are different factory teams that realize that girls can be on their team too! Hopefully the other girls realize that nothing is impossible!
How about the suspension? Many factory riders have told me that the works suspension is the biggest advantage that a factory rider has…
Oh definitely, I would agree with them! I’ve been working on my suspension set-up because it is the biggest help out on the track for sure. I couldn’t believe how awesome the suspension I have right now is. Now I realize how those guys can go so fast; it’s because they have such good parts on the bikes! So yes, I would say that good suspension is the biggest advantage for sure.
You finished third at the FIM World Championship in Bulgaria a couple weeks ago. How did that weekend go? Your dad told me that you definitely had the speed, but you started to ride like a retard late in the races. Did you get nervous?
I had blast out there for sure and definitely a good weekend for me! Wait…? I rode like a retard. I don’t think so! (Laughs) It is just different time, food and cultures for me when I go to Europe to race. There are no excuses for sure, but those top girls are going so fast and it is very fun to challenge them. I like to race in Europe because it is good practice for the races here.
How many of the World Championship rounds do you hope to attend? Obviously, the WMA series is your priority, but will you ever try to contest the whole series in Europe?
I am pretty sure I am doing three for sure, but hopefully four, because I really like to race out there. Yeah, I would love to try to contest the whole series in Europe one day and it would be awesome. It is just hard because obviously, I live in America not over there, but maybe I’ll live in France then I’ll have to stay in Europe. (Laughs) Just kidding.
Obviously, the goal is to successfully defend your title, but do you have any additional goals? Like, to win every moto, perhaps?
Yeah I always have a goal and I really want to win every moto for sure, but it is not going to be easy because I know all girls are working so hard and want to be on top. But I want to do the same! I just want to defend my title. I am not going change the way I ride or practice. I just go out there, and I know what I am supposed to do and I will always try my best!
Who will be your biggest competition? Patterson looks like she has dropped some weight and I heard she is going fast, but who else? What about the rookies Vicki Golden and Sara Price?
Yeah, Patterson always goes so fast every time I see her and it is awesome racing against her. Actually, I would say everyone is my competition. Everyone is going fast right now even including Vicki and Sara. They are such good riders and I have known them both for such long time and it would be sweet to racing against them as WMA pros.
So you rolled up to the track in a Honda Ridgeline today. Is that part of your factory Honda contract? I heard you are a balla’ these days…
Yeah it is part of my factory Honda contract! Now I can get a trailer out to the track so I can change and stay there since all guys will be changing clothes in the semi. I can’t thank Honda enough for setting up all these things for me. I am pumped to be a balla’ in my new Honda Ridgeline. (Laughs) Just kidding, I am not a balla’ at all!
I haven’t heard you mention racing a men’s national in a while. Is that still a goal? And if so, what is the timeline?
Of course, it will always be my goal! I really want to try this year but I am not going out there and try until I am ready. I just want to compare my lap times to the top 40t guys at every race and see if I am close to qualifying speed. So, I am not sure when I am going to do it for sure. It could be this year or next year. Who knows? Hopefully soon, because I’ve been working hard towards achieving that goal.
Are you excited about the new one-day National program? It’s nice to see the women get equal play, instead of having to race whenever there were a few minutes here and there to squeeze them in…
Oh for sure, I am way stoked how much better the series is for women’s racing. It is going be long, busy day, but way better and fun. Maybe I will be less nervous. Thanks to Miki Keller so much because she has done a lot for all of us!
What advice do you have for fans that want to come up and meet you at the races?
I would tell them to come up and say hi! I love all my fans and getting new fans. Don’t be shy because I am deaf. We can communicate with anything. So, make sure you guys come up and I would love to meet you.