Endurocross adds women's division

Casey Martinez and Maria Forsberg at the inaugural Women's Enduro X Final at Summer X Games 17. Eric Lars Bakke/ESPN Images

The AMA Endurocross championship began in 2004 but it wasn't until the sport came to the X Games last summer that it featured a professional women's division. In 2012, the series has been expanded to eight rounds with five of them featuring a female class. The series will begin on May 4 in Las Vegas on the night before the final round of the AMA Supercross series and end on Nov. 17 also in Las Vegas, in conjunction with the AMA Hall of Fame weekend. Both rounds will feature the women's class, as will round three, which is expected to take place at X Games 2012 in Los Angeles.

In 2011, following the Endurocross opener at XG 17 in the Staples Center, the promoters were encouraged to include more women's racing in the series. That led to the addition of the class at the Everett round and the finals in Las Vegas. Maria Forsberg won the X Games and Everett events and then Louise Forsley, the current AMA Trials champion, showed up at the Las Vegas finals and claimed the win. In 2012, the women will have their own official championship.

"The standing ovations and positive response from the crowd during the women's races combined with the number of top female riders interested in competing drove us to create this championship series for 2012," said Eric Peronnard, the creator of EnduroCross. "And the women are improving quickly so we are proud of the fact that we are providing this opportunity for them to showcase their skills in front of packed Arena's and live TV with the X Games."

Five of the eight GEICO AMA EnduroCross rounds will include a women's class with points being awarded similar to the men's expert class to determine the 2012 Women's EnduroCross champion. For both the women's class and men's expert classes, the first two rounds will provide the opportunity for riders to earn spots in the X Games Enduro X, which is a stand-alone event but will provide points for the championship series in both classes.