If you’ve followed our previous updates on the likes of Daniel Sanders (Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team), Daniel Milner (KTM Enduro Racing Team) and Luke Styke (Active8 Yamaha Yamalube), you’ll recognise the growth of cross-discipline training and racing in Motocross (MX) and Enduro. Another impressive Australian talent you can add to your list of athletes with an extensive pedigree of experience through cross-discipline training, is Emma Milesevic (Honda Red Ride Team).
With a beaming smile and insatiable positivity, Milesevic has been an invaluable addition to the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championships Women’s class, adding further fire to an already fierce line-up that includes Jessica Gardiner (Yamaha MX Store Ballards Off-Road Team), Emelie Karlsson (Yamaha) and Danielle Foot (Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team). Heralded as the first Victorian girl to progress to A Grade MX racing, Milesevic is a Pirelli MX Nationals local who is competing in both the Australian Women’s MX Championship as well as the 2019 AORC Women’s category, where she sits in fourth and second place respectively.
Milsevic sat down with Motorcycling Australia to reflect on the exact moment that Enduro racing peaked her interest, how these two contrasting disciplines compliment one another and how the racing landscape has changed for women over the years.
Tell us how your weekend at Murray Bridge for the Pirelli MX Nationals Australian Women’s MX Championship went.
The Australian Women’s MX Championship went really well. I had a pretty tough weekend overall. It started off really well but I ran into some challenges on both days with injuries.
I went a lot better on the second day but during the race I popped out my knee after landing heavy after a jump, so I was in a fair bit of pain. But you just push on and I was pretty happy with my results after the close of the weekend.
It was definitely a challenge both mentally and physically overall. But looking back, I did a good job to finish where I did. I’m definitely looking forward to the next round in Manjimup, Western Australia for a full moto! I find my strengths lie in my consistency and keeping myself strong, energised and focussed so that weekend will be a great challenge.
With 2019 marking your first full AORC season, how are you finding the transition to a new discipline, plus managing the new rules and environment? Are you introducing some MX racing techniques to your AORC racing?
My first full AORC season has been positive so far. It’s been a real learning curve learning the different rules in the Enduro discipline but I’ve been receiving a lot of support from people in the AORC community that has been invaluable. After my first appearance last year in Omeo, I had no clue about Enduro racing, but this year I’ve been learning and growing in leaps and bounds!
The last weekend in Dungog was challenging because I’ve never done the Enduro timecard format. So Round 3 was difficult in figuring out how fast to go during the trail ride versus tests. Dungog has really taught me when to push and when to hold back and save your energy.
I can honestly say that my Off-Road skills have helped my MX skills more so than the other way around. I’ve found that Enduro riding has taught me how to refine my techniques, which is something I found I didn’t have an opportunity to do previously in racing MX because you’re more focussed on speed rather than honing in on your techniques.
Walk us through the moment in 2018 when you decided to add Enduro racing to your already impressive resume? What’s surprised you the most during this move from MX to Enduro?
The decision came about in a really odd way. I had a tough season over in Europe back in 2018 and came home ready to pack up my gear and never race again. But after some time at home, I heard that AORC were coming to Omeo for a weekend and it piqued my interest. So, I got in contact with Chris Gray to see whether it was worth me entering and I was really encouraged to ‘have a crack’ and just simply have fun.
When the Omeo weekend came around, I found myself really enjoying being back on the bike and the overall atmosphere as these events is really positive! Because I enjoyed it so much I decided to sign up for a full season this year, and racing in AORC has really rekindled my love for the sport!
It’s even helped me return to MX racing, which I now do alongside AORC!
You’ve been racing since eight years of age and have been dubbed the first Victorian girl to progress to A Grade amongst all the boys. How has the racing landscape changed over the years since you were eight?
The landscape has changed massively recently. I noticed changes as I grew up, especially for women, but nothing prepared me for how significant the change was after I returned from racing overseas. I remember a few years ago that there would be about four girls entered into a regional race, whilst nowadays the numbers have jumped up to 30 ladies!
I think it was a stigma previously that girls were too nervous about motorcycling because it might have been scary or dangerous, but that attitude has completely disappeared! The growth of women in the sport has also helped build a strong, positive community who support each other, and that is really lovely to see!
We’ve seen that you, along with the likes of Andy Wilksch, have run some Enduro and Motocross Coaching Days. What’s this experience been like for you personally and professionally?
I’ve been approached by a lot of girls to run Coaching Days for MX and even Off-Road but because this is my first year competing in this discipline I approached Andy to see if he would help. It’s been a great turn of events because I’ve had the opportunity to also learn and develop my Off-Road skills thanks to Andy!
I personally get such a thrill out of these coaching days because you get to see girls finish a second faster than the last lap or jump over a log smoother after each attempt, and just generally gain more confidence. It’s a really rewarding experience!
It’s these experiences that bring me back to why I started racing, because I see these girls progressing and it’s beyond rewarding!
I just really want to thank Honda for their support. With the numbers of women in the sport still growing, it’s really special to have people support you on this journey! The transition to riding Honda has also been super smooth, and I cannot fault the bike!
AORC returns for Rounds 5 & 6 in Kyogle, NSW for back-to-back Sprints. In the meantime, stay updated with all the happenings of the 2019 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship by visiting the AORC Website at aorc.org.au, or by following the Yamaha AORC on Twitter and Facebook as well as @aorc on Instagram. Don’t forget to download the Official AORC app via Team App. It’s as easy as downloading Team App and searching ‘AORC’!
The 2019 Australian Women’s MX Championship heads to Manjimup, Western Australia for Rounds 3, fon May 31st. The 2019 Pirelli MX Nationals moves to Gympie, Queensland for Round 6, on June 23rd. Images courtesy of John Pearson Media and MX Nationals Media