PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 11, 2006) -- Kawasaki’s James Stewart was encouraged in his return to the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF early this month in Buchanan, Mich., where he finished second to series leader Ricky Carmichael. Stewart is counting on the week off he’s had since then to rest his sore knee and a return to one of his favorite tracks, the Unadilla Valley Sport Center in New Berlin, N.Y., on Sunday, July 16, to provide the combination he needs to get back to his winning ways.
In May, at the Hangtown National near Sacramento, Stewart became the first rider in nearly three years to beat Carmichael. It marked the end to the longest winning streak in AMA Motocross history. But then Stewart suffered a hard crash in round two at Mt. Morris, Pa., and after taking some time away from the series feels he’s finally getting healthy enough to perhaps challenge Carmichael this coming weekend.
“Ricky’s riding really well right now so it’s going to be tough,” Stewart admits. “I’m going back to work in practice during the week to improve a few things. By the time we come to Unadilla I hope I’ll be back close to 100 percent physically. I like that track a lot and have always done well there so we’ll see what happens.”
Stewart and Carmichael came together off a jump in last year’s race at Unadilla in one of the season’s controversial moments. Stewart has won three times in the Motocross Lites class (then called 125 class) at the track.
While Stewart is eager to race at the historic Unadilla circuit, Carmichael admits that the natural terrain track is not one of his favorites. This in spite of the fact that he’s won five of the last six AMA Motocross Championship races there.
“It’s no secret that Unadilla is not my favorite track, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to cut any slack to anyone,” said Makita Suzuki’s Carmichael. “I know James is going to be tough there. It could be a really good battle and I’m looking forward to it.”
Another rider to watch for at Unadilla will be Sobe/Samsung Mobile Honda’s Kevin Windham. Windham won at Unadilla in an epic race over Carmichael in 2003. Yamaha’s Chad Reed is ranked second in the standings and would love to earn a win. Honda’s Davi Millsaps and MDK Honda’s Nick Wey are also serious contenders in the series and hope to break through this weekend.
Ryan Villopoto, the young Monster Energy Drink/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider, has closed to within five points of series leader Mike Alessi, of Red Bull KTM, after winning the Motocross Lites class overall in Michigan over the July 4 weekend. Villopoto’s recent run sets up the scenario of whoever finishes better at Unadilla between Villopoto and Alessi will likely leave New York the Motocross Lites class leader.
“I’m riding really well right now,” said Villopoto. “I just have to make sure I get good starts and everything should work out OK.”
Alessi was doing some soul searching after losing again to Villopoto at Red Bud. “I’m not sure what’s going on with my riding right now,” he said. “I know I have the capability to win races, but for some reason I’m not putting together two good motos. If I can figure that out, I think I can hold on to the championship lead.”
Villopoto’s Kawasaki teammate Ben Townley could be a threat at Unadilla. The former World Motocross MX2 Champion should feel right at home on Unadilla, considered the most “European-like” of all American motocross circuits.
Unadilla is one of the most famous motocross tracks in America. It has hosted world championship events and has some of the most unique obstacles in the series that have names like Screw U, Gravity Cavity, The Wall and Skyshot.
The race will be televised on OLN on Sunday, July 23 at 3:00 pm eastern. Motocross Lites will air on July 24 at 5:00 pm.
WHAT: The 2006 FMF Pro Nationals presented by Scott Goggles, round six of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
WHERE: The Unadilla Valley Sports Center complex is located 5 miles North of New Berlin, NY at 5986 State Highway 8
WHEN: July 15-16, 2006
COURSE: 1.7 miles (approx), rich, dark loamy dirt.
2005 WINNERS: AMA Motocross: Ricky Carmichael (Suzuki). AMA Motocross Lites: Broc Hepler (Suzuki).
SCHEDULE: Saturday (July 15) - Pro practice, 1:00-3:25 pm., Pre-qualifiers 4:05 pm.; Sunday (July 6) - Practice, 9:00-10:30 am. Qualifying, 10:30 am. Opening Ceremonies, 12:30 pm. Final events start at 1:00 pm with two 30-minute, plus two lap motos for each class.
TICKETS: Tickets are always available at the gate. There are no sell-outs. If you want to buy your tickets in advance, you can do so by calling (607) 965-8784 with Visa/MasterCard. Or by mail: Unadilla Motorsports, P.O. Box 5119, Edmeston, NY 13335
Adult - Fri-Sun $55, Sat-Sun $40, Sunday only $30
Children ages 6-12 - Fri-Sun $15, Sat-Sun $10, Sunday only $10
Children under 5 free if accompanied by an adult.
The only one day admission ticket that is available is for Sunday admission. If you arrive on Friday or Saturday, you will be charged the corresponding weekend ticket price. Free parking
Please note that spectator camping is not available at Unadilla during Pro National Weekend.