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.

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