MX Sports Pro Racing announced Wednesday that the Women's Motocross Championship, featured at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, will be scaled back from eight events in 2012 to three in 2013 and will be known as the Women's Pro Motocross Triple Crown.
The rollback in the number of events was credited to "Operational demands associated with both the live events and the television and Internet broadcasts for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship," said Roy Janson, director of competition for MX Sports Pro Racing.
Four-time and defending champion Ashley Fiolek still maintains that she will not be lining up for the series in 2013. On May 17 she released this tweet: "I wanted to let everyone that follows me and the WMA that this is my last year racing the outdoor nationals."
After Wednesday's announcement her family released the following statement to ESPN: "Ashley announced in May that she would not return to the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship that's promoted by MX Sports but she will be competing in other motorcycle series. Ashley will be holding a press conference in January to announce her future plans."
The triple crown will take place within a six-week period beginning at the Hangtown Motocross Classic season opener May 18 followed by the High Point National on June 8 and the Moto-X 338 National on June 29. The format will remain the same as 2012 with two practice sessions and two 15-minute plus one lap motos.
MX Sports Pro Racing president Davey Coombs said no television package has been announced.
"But there's a lot of time between now and May," he said. "At the least we will be including highlights of those events on our television coverage of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, plus the races will be extensively covered live and through highlight packages on the Internet on www.allisports.com, www.vurbmoto.com. www.racerxonline.com and more."
Seven-time champion Jessica Patterson received the news while on a vacation and responded via text message. "I figure at least we have races to do and it's better than none," she said. "It's a bummer that we don't have a long series and not much room for mistakes but if we have to take a step back until they can figure out how to make it better for us then fine. I just want to race."
The men's competition, which features two classes [450 and 250] holds all practice, qualifying and racing in a one-day format with each class receiving two championship points and purse paying motos. For years, promoters have tried to find the right fit for the women's schedule. When directly asked what has been keeping women's motocross from growing in the United States, Coombs said it wasn't through a lack of effort.
"The women's races in 2012 were exciting. I watched every lap of every race," Coombs said. "But it was a challenge to have more than 30 participants in the class at most rounds last year, and sometimes even half the starting gate. Now, with the evolving live TV package [Fuel, NBC Sports and NBC], it's going to really limit the time we have in a one-day race format that already begins with the riders' meeting at 7:45 a.m. and extends well past 5 p.m. at most events, with almost nonstop activity.
"Also, we are not replacing the WMX in 2013 -- there is no new class being added for minicycles or vintage bikes or vet riders or freestyle or anything. We simply do not have the time on race day to add any more components to the current schedule."