Friday Feature: Katherine Prumm

Recently, the Women’s Motocross Association (WMA) announced that the 2007 & 2006 FIM Women’s World Champion, Katherine Prumm of Auckland, New Zealand, will be racing the WMA Drill Tech Women’s Cup, Nov. 24th, at the Cycle Ranch MX Park, in Floresville, Texas along with many other international competitors.
The two-time FIM Women’s World Cup Champion will be running the #3 Team Green Kawasaki KX 250F at the WMA Cup.
TWMX caught up with Prumm to chat about racing in the U.S., the WMA, and keeping up on the studies.

We got to see you in action at the Uddevalla GP and you looked much faster than when we last saw you compete in the US. Would you agree?

I think my speed is better than in 06. As a motocross racer that’s what we all try to do every year — get faster and faster. In Washougal last year I snapped my ACL and damaged the cartilage in my knee in the start of the first moto. I had to have a full knee reconstructive surgery at the end of 06 and it was a long process of trying to get back to full fitness. In Sweden I felt pretty good on the bike. I had good speed but my starts let me down and I had to work hard to come from the back of the pack.

How would you differentiate the racing in Europe, New Zealand and the United States?

The racing in Europe has really picked up over the last three years that I have been racing in the Championship. The girls get similar exposure to the men and I run out of the Molson Kawasaki race team which is the Premier MX2 Kawasaki team. We have 2 practices and a qualifying on Saturday and run the same race program on the Sunday with the MX1 and MX2 world Championship. We have practice of 20mins and two 20+2 motos on Sunday. This year they had nearly 50 riders at the first round and we qualify down to 30 riders. The speed of the top 10 is really good and there are a lot of younger new riders coming into the championship. This format has encouraged high numbers of women to compete and was one of the major factors that I raced back in Europe this year. I love to compete on the same rough tracks on the Sunday when the spectator numbers are the highest and I do a lot of training during the week and with the World Cup the races are always 20 +2lap motos and no shorter.

I have only done 4 races of the WMA last year and it seemed pretty good. The speed of the riders is high and the competition is tough. It would be better if the motos could be run with men’s program on the Sunday though, one moto in the morning and one in the middle of the day just like in Europe. That way the women would get more exposure and the sport would grow more as this year I noticed there were a lot less women on the line compared to when I competed in the US in 2006.

Most of my racing at home is done in the Men’s 250cc class so that I can try and improve my speed. I race in the men’s and women’s championship here.

You had a firm grip on the competition when you last raced in the US. What are your expectations coming into the WMA Cup in Texas?

I haven’t been and raced in the States at all this year and I haven’t seen any of the girls ride for a long time so it is hard to say. I have been working hard and I’m sure that everyone over there is working hard too.

Miki Keller from WMA and Kawasaki have really helped to get everything organised for me there. I’ve heard it’s a cool track and I was in the USA for thanksgiving last year so I’m really looking forward to it this year.

There are a few women in the United States that actually make a good living racing, thanks to decent apparel, shoe and energy drink sponsorships. Do women in the FIM series have the same opportunities?

At the moment there are not the same opportunities in Europe for Women in terms of making a living. I’m a double World Champion and yet it is still costing me money to pursue my passion. Its disappointing that women’s motocross is still lacking the support from the Manufactures as I feel that womaare putting in just as much effort and at this stage I am still deciding on what and where to race in 2008. . . Anyone have any offers?? Ha-ha

What do you think of the level of professionalism in the US, versus Europe?

I think that everyone is trying to make it as professional as possible. The FIM and Youthstream have really stepped it up by fielding the women on the same day as the MX1 and MX2 riders; with decent length races and giving us the same championship status as the men. It would be good if the AMA and WMA could do the same for the Women in the US.

What does women’s MX in the States need to step up to the next level?

I don’t want to sound like I am comparing back to Europe all the time but in every country I have raced (Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Europe) the girls get to follow the same format as the men and their races feature on the same day. It would be good for the sponsors, and women racers to have practice and qualifying Saturday and race on the same track/day as the Pro’s with longer motos.

Have you heard of the new pro Ashley Fiolek?

Yes. I meet Ashley at Loretta’s when I went and watched in 2006 and she seemed like a really cool chick with a lot of talent.

Ashley plans to contest the entire FIM Women’s World Championships next year. So far, it sounds like an exciting series, doesn’t it?

It’s a full World Championship next year with 5 rounds all over Europe so that’s really exciting for all the Women. The sport is growing and the FIM and Youthstream are trying every year to make it bigger and more like the men’s championship.

How would you rate the speed of the WMA racers against that of your European competition?

I can’t really say as I haven’t been in the US this year. The competition in Europe is good though with a lot of depth to the field. There are some fast new riders coming through.

Jessica Patterson has tried unsuccessfully to qualify for a men’s AMA Pro National, and Fiolek has the goal of becoming the first female to actually do so. Do you have any similar aspirations in the MX2 World Championships?

It has always been a goal of mine to be fast enough to compete with the men. I want to be able to qualify for an MX2 World GP round as the racing is really close and intense and there is only usually 4-5 seconds separating the top 30 times in qualifying. I think it is possible for a woman to qualify but I won’t be trying until I know I am fast enough to make it in and can really mix it with the top guys.

In closing, what can you tell us about yourself that we couldn’t learn from looking at the results sheets?

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to NZ when I was 7 years old with my family. I began riding at the age of 9 and had my first race a few months later when I was 10. My training partner at home is my 16 year old brother, Matthew and he races for Motorex KTM New Zealand in the 125cc class. He beats me most of the time so it’s always good training as I try to beat him!!!

I graduated from High School in 2005 and achieved excellence in Physical Education, Agricultural Science and Full Merit in Science, Maths and Graphics. I was also named Sportswoman of the Year after winning Athletics, finishing 2nd in Triathlon and Cross Country, and 3rd in Swimming.

This year I was studying full time at University in Computer Graphic design as it is another of my passions outside of motocross. It was over 50 hours a week of work though and I had to choose between motocross and study and whilst I am young I went for the sport I love. I have however still got a huge interest in graphic and web design and am trying to learn the programs.

Also if I could I’d like to say a huge thanks to all the people who have helped me so far; My Parents have had a massive input into my racing and I couldn’t have done it without them. My loyal sponsors; Kawasaki, Motorcycle Trader and News, Star Insurance, Alpinestars, One Industries, Sparc, Scott Goggles, Pro Circuit, MR Motorcyclesnestars, One Industries, Sparc, Scott Goggles, Pro Circuit, MR Motorcycles