Monday, January 12, 2009

Stewart wins Supercross showdown with Reed in Phoenix

First victory for Stewart in Bell Moto-8; Wey 15th

Stewart was all business in Phoenix after an unfortunate tumble in Anaheim last week.

Bell Rider James Stewart won his first Supercross race of the season, outdueling rival Chad Reed for the victory at Chase Field in Phoenix on Saturday. When the gate dropped on the main event it was last week's surprise winner Josh Grant who took the holeshot with Stewart and Reed hot on his heels. But by the end of the first lap Stewart had made his way to the front bringing a raucous cheer from the crowd of nearly 50,000. Lap three was Reed's turn to amp the fans when he slipped by Grant to set up the duel everyone came to see.

Rumor has it that Stewart showed up on radar at Sky Harbor Air Traffic Control.

For the better part of 17 laps the pair rode a race of their own with Stewart out front. Though Stewart had some less-than-perfect trips through the whoops section, he was able to correct and keep things moving away from the speedy Reed. On the last two laps things got tight with Reed closing the gap to a couple bike lengths and challenging hard. A determined Stewart kept his focus, however, holding steady for his third consecutive win at Chase Field. Grant would hang on for third.

“I knew that Chad would make it tough on me tonight,” said Stewart. “That is the type of racing that we love to do, and I am pumped because I picked up the win.”

James Stewart lights the lamp on his first SX win of the '09 campaign.

With last week's DNF in the main event, Stewart now sits seventh in the season standings after two events with Grant, Reed and Andrew Short in the top three spots, respectively.

Fellow Bell Rider Nick Wey finished 15th on the evening and sits 13th in points.

Nick Wey with another solid performance abourd his 450 at Phoenix.

1. James Stewart – Bell Moto-8
2. Chad Reed
3. Josh Grant
15. Nick Wey – Bell Moto-8

After 2 of 17 events
1. Josh Grant, 45 points
2. Chad Reed, 42
3. Andrew Short, 38
7. James Stewart, 27 – Bell Moto-8
13. Nick Wey, 18 – Bell Moto-8

Photos © 2009 Frank Hoppen

SX LITES: Brayton posts strong second place finish at Phoenix

Sipes claws way to seventh after slow start

Bell Rider Justin Brayton notched his best-ever Supercross Lites finish with a second place showing at the Phoenix stop of the AMA Supercross Series at Chase Field on Saturday. His Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM teammate Ryan Sipes finished a strong seventh putting the riders in fourth and sixth in the season standings, respectively.

Justin Brayton rips through a corner at the Phoenix SX.

Though neither rider had a good start, the Bell Moto-8-clad Brayton impressively moved into fifth after the first few turns while Sipes bided his time back in twelfth. PJ Larsen was Brayton's next victim on lap three when he bolted past in the second whoop section. He soon picked off another rider and by lap four was running in third. Meanwhile, Sipes was busy pushing his way through the pack breaking into the top ten on lap five.

On lap seven, the duo of Ryan Dungey and Brayton took advantage of a spill by early leader Jake Weimer, moving into first and second, respectively. Weimer remounted and made up an impressive amount of ground in the next few laps eventually settling in behind third place rider Ryan Morais. The duo would put the pressure on Brayton for the last few laps, but the KTM rider refused to let up and held on for second behind Dungey. After an incredible climb through the pack, Sipes would secure a hard-fought seventh place finish to go along with his sixth at Anaheim last week.

Ryan Sipes airs it out during practice at Phoenix.

1. Ryan Dungey
2. Justin Brayton – Bell Moto-8
3. Ryan Morais
7. Ryan Sipes – Bell Moto-8

After 2 of 8 events
1. Ryan Dungey, 45 points
2. Jake Weimer, 43
3. Ryan Morais, 42
4. Justin Brayton, 36 – Bell Moto-8
6. Ryan Sipes, 29 – Bell Moto-8

Photos © 2009 Frank Hoppen

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rough day in the office for Stewart at Anaheim 1

Wey finishes ninth, Byrne on the mend; Lites riders strong

James Stewart flat out at A1. Photos:

While the stadium in Anaheim may be home to Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels, it was anything but heavenly for Bell Rider James Stewart who crashed heavily and was unable to finish the main event at the 2009 Supercross series opener Saturday.

After winning his heat race with relative ease earlier in the evening, Stewart was off to a promising start in the finale, taking the holeshot and leading the first lap and a half. As expected, the duel between Stewart and rival Chad Reed materialized and the latter took over the lead on lap two and led for the next five laps.

As expected, Stewart would not let the Australian get away and passed Reed back setting up what looked like an instant SX classic. Then on one of the track’s tight turns, Stewart’s bike hesitated slightly and Reed clipped his rear wheel sending both riders hard to the dirt. A slew of riders passed the pair as they desperately tried to re-start their bikes—Reed managed to get his running while Stewart did not.

Stewart had the fastest lap in qualifying and looked great all day.

Rookie Josh Grant made it through the mayhem into the lead with Andrew Short a few ticks behind in second. The pair would stay that way for the remainder of the race—despite a scary battle with a track banner with two laps to go—with Reed working his way back up to third. Stewart would be credited with 19th place on the day.

Bell Rider Nick Wey finished a respectable ninth while fellow Bell Rider Michael Byrne was seen trackside, still recovering from a summer leg injury.

A Bell-clad James Stewart on the whoops at A1.

Muscle Milk MDK/KTM ‘s Sipes , Brayton strong in Lites opener
In the Lites class, Muscle Milk MDK/KTM riders Ryan Sipes and Justin Brayton finished sixth and seventh in the finals, respectively. Sipes took the hard road to his finish—after having bike problems that left him sitting still when the gate dropped on his heat race, he rode a solid last chance qualifier to make it into the final field of 20 riders.

Brayton looked very fast all weekend and was third in his qualifying heat and looked to be headed towards the podium in the finals when a tangle with Dan Reardon sent him over the bars. Brayton recovered and did well to work his way back up to seventh.