Ashley Fiolek Has Hit the Big Time
The official press release is finally out: Ashley Fiolek is the first female racer to ever be signed by a factory race team. Alongside Andrew Short, Davi Millsaps, Ivan Tedesco and Ben Townley, the 18-year-old Deaf girl from Florida will race out of the Red Bull Honda semi. We picked Ash's brain about earning yet another spot in the record books.
The news is out! You are a full-fledged factory Red Bull Honda rider. How excited are you?
I am definitely excited! When I first heard about it I was really surprised. I look up to all of those guys at Honda, and for me to be a part of this team is quite an honor.
Was the call from Honda a complete surprise, or was this something that had been in the works for quite some time?
Once my mom and dad told me the news I was completely surprised. We've been working on this for a quite a while, and at times it didn't look like things were going to pan out. However, one night my parents took me out to dinner and they broke the news to me that things had actually worked out.
Does this mean you'll be on a full factory bike?
I do have a full factory ride. I will have a full factory motor, suspension, and chassis setup. My mechanic Cody [Wolf] will continue to be my mechanic for the upcoming season, too. The team will help him out with anything he needs to help us have a successful season.
You had your poster shoot last month, so how did the rest of the team act and treat you?
It was really cool! I was a little nervous, and they didn't know I was joining the team until they actually introduced me. I ate lunch with Ben Townley that day, and he was really excited about the whole deal. After we finished the photoshoot, Davi [Millsaps] sent me a text message saying how happy he was to have me on the team. It was definitely a little overwhelming to be out there with all of those guys, but it's really great to be a part of that team and atmosphere.
Do you feel as though you have more pressure on your shoulders to perform and be an ambassador to the sport of motocross?
I don't really think about that too much. I'm still training and racing. As far as I'm concerned that's what they hired me to do. I think it's important for people to learn about motocross, and if I can help them learn and bring more people into the sport then that's great.
Last time we spoke we were joking around about how much money you were making. Now, however, is it like two fold or three fold?
(Laughs) Let's just say that they are taking care of me, and it's good to be recognized as a professional women's motocross racer.
What are your thoughts on the 2009 season now that MX Sports has purchased it from Miki Keller?
I think it's great! We're running more races and more girls are showing up to race. We're basically the third class now: 450s, 250s, and women. We're part of the schedule just like the rest of the classes, and it's a huge step forward for all of us women motocross racers.
You won the WMA title in a convincing manner this year. However, for the 2009 season, who do you expect your biggest competition will be?
I am just working harder than ever right now and trying to learn new techniques. Everybody is going to be fast. Jessica Patterson didn't win five times because she couldn't figure out how to fix things, so she is definitely going to be a big threat. I think that every girl on the track is going to be my competition. For me, though, I need to not worry about them and simply focus on racing the track and riding how I know how to ride. At the end of the season, if I've put forth my best efforts, then hopefully I'll be there with another championship.
Have you had the opportunity to see or ride your factory bike yet?
A little bit. I've only ridden it for the photoshoot, but I am excited to start testing in a couple of weeks.
What were your thoughts on the bike when you rode it for the photo
I couldn't believe how fast it was! It pulled so effortlessly, and it was a bit overwhelming. It'll be fun, but I just need a little bit of time to get comfortable and adjust to how fast the bike is.
What does the effect of your factory ride have on you doing the Grand Prix series overseas?
Obviously my priority is here in the United States, but I will be going over to Europe because I will be able to make five of the seven rounds over there. I want to race as many races in Europe as possible because it really helps me out in the long run, so it looks like it'll be five races in Europe that I'll part take in.
Will you have a factory bike in Europe or will you be supported by one of the teams over there?
I will be with LS Motors from Belgium. They're a Honda team over there that I will be a part of and supplying me with everything that I'll need.
What do you think this factory ride means for women's motocross? Do you think other factory teams will follow suit?
I think it will help girls realize that they can be a part of something like this, and hopefully other factory teams will follow what Honda is doing. In Europe, there are a lot of girls supported by factory teams, so hopefully this will show the girls that are coming up through the ranks that they have something to shoot for.
As always, the off-season provides us with a lot of rumors; therefore, have you heard of any other factory teams that may be doing the same thing?
I haven't really heard if anybody else was going to get picked up by a factory team. Hopefully, however, another team will hire a girl.