Although I have not checked the record books, Honda of Houston’s Jessica Patterson is very likely the winningest women's motocross racer ever. With five WMA (Women’s Motocross Association) Championships to her credit this girl certainly knows what it takes to win. Losing the 2008 WMA Championship certainly was disappointing for the 25 year old, but with a renewed fire she is attempting to regain the number 1 plate from current Champ Ashley Fiolek. I recently had the chance to sit down with the Tallahassee, Florida resident to get her take on the 2009 season.
Jessica Patterson: I felt awesome coming into the year; I’ve been working really hard and training hard – physically I feel very good. I just haven’t had the best of finishes yet, but in Hangtown I won the second moto, and I found a lot of things that we were trying to search for and it seemed to work out. Also, I nearly won the first moto in Texas.
Ashley’s been difficult to beat, how did you overtake her in the second moto at Hangtown?
Well, she’s on an awesome bike, and she’s got a good team behind her. Of course, with her weighing maybe 100 pounds, it’s going to be hard to get a start over her, but I knew that from the beginning. You know, it’s just something that we worked out with the bike. We changed a few things with it, and finally it seemed that I got a good start; I knew that’s all I needed. As soon as I got that good start, I knew that I could win the race; it just kind of all fell together for me. The track was awesome; it was a little bit rougher than the first moto, and it seemed like everything worked out really well.
You’ve been on the same team over the past few years, but have you changed anything else with your racing?
Yeah, I’ve been training with Ryno (Ryan Hughes) since January. We’ve been working hard, and riding a lot, changing some techniques, and changing the way I ride, eat, and just about everything. He’s made a pretty big change in me for sure.
You’ve probably been the most successful woman motocrosser with your moto wins, race wins, and your championships. After defending the championship the past few years, was it difficult to lose it last year?
Yeah, it was definitely tough, but in a way I think it was good for me. It kind of lit a new spark under me, and I realized that I have been winning a lot these last few years, and maybe kind of took it for granted. Then when I didn’t win the championship, it lit that spark that I mentioned and I was ready to come back and ready to win again. You sometimes don’t realize what you have until you lose it. After losing the Championship I was ready to come back and get it.
So, as you said, that fired you up again. With that, winning a moto at Hangtown, and battling so strong at Freestone, do you feel like things may be shifting a bit more your way?
Yeah, I definitely think that with everything we changed, and what with we’ve been working on, it’s all kind of coming together now. I think that I can carry this momentum on through the rest of the year. Of course I know that I’m just going to have to get good starts. But I think that now we got it all figured out, I’m ready to go now and carry it all through the year.
I think that it could be a good thing, but like I’ve said in the past, I went over there a while ago and just didn’t feel like I was on the best equipment. It’s hard to compete when they’re all on factory bikes over there, and you’ve come over on a privateer bike and just hope that it’s good enough. You’re not sure; it might be somebody’s practice bike! You don’t know what shape that it's in. It’s hard to go over there and realize you’re not on your own equipment. I would love to go over there, but if I did it, I would want all of my stuff to be there.
How has the fan base been in the WMA Championship series?
I think now, like last year with Ashley [Fiolek], Tarah [Gieger], and me putting on a pretty good show that people have started to realize that the racing’s good, and we have received a bigger fan base. I think that this year it’s the same way because there are new riders coming up, there’s lots of new talent all pushing up at once right now. It’s a good opportunity for us to move up, and get more exposure. The TV channel versus now bought our show, so I think now it’s starting to grow again. The only thing that I wish is that we had right now is a little bit longer motos, but I know that they’re trying to figure out this new program. At Glen Helen we only had four lap motos, so that was like no time at all. Now they’ve moved us up to 15 minutes plus one lap so it’s better. I think that longer motos would be the only suggestion that I would make. Before, I said that we really needed somebody to buy this program and help move it up. Now that MX Sports has done it, I think it’s starting to go in the right direction now.
Obviously right now your focus is on winning the championship back, but what else do you have planned for 2009?
I have the X Games coming up, which is right after Washougal. I’ll start getting ready for that pretty soon, just riding some supercross and getting ready, that’s pretty much it. At the end of the year we’ll just kind of chill and maybe do some local races for fun, but the WMA Championship is my main focus, and of course, X Games. I really want to win that this year; it should be pretty good.
Last question Jessica. Is there anything that I might have missed or maybe you want to add?
I’ve had a great career, and I think it’s hopefully going to continue. I just want to see women’s motocross grow more. I definitely need to thank Honda of Houston, and my boyfriend, Eddie for giving me all the chances in the world to run up with these girls. Also of course thanks to Fox, Oakley, Dunlop, Factory Connection, and Vortex. They have all helped a lot, and I appreciate it!