Well things didn’t go as planned this past weekend in Toronto.
I was going into Toronto with the plan of making the podium and getting valuable championship points. Last year I lost the AMA title by only 2 points so I know how important each point is. There is also a new practice system this season. In the past our heat race and gate pick was decided by the points system. Toronto was the first event with the new timed qualifying/practice sessions that determine your heat race and gate pick.
This puts extra pressure on us to lay down the quickest lap time for starting position and most importantly to be in the second heat race so I can see how things go in the first heat and to watch for fast lines. At the end of the second practice session, the top 4 riders were only separated by .40 of a second.
In the first practice session I was in a group of riders that included RC, Reed and Ivan Tedesco. Ivan and I came through the mechanic's area together with RC and Reed in front of us. Ivan took the outside line and went triple-triple through the section leading into the dragon back. I took the inside line and went double-double and then tripled the section leading into the dragon back. I was coming up the inside of Ivan on the dragon's back and as we came over the top we collided with Ivan going down.
I want everyone to know that I would never try to hurt any other rider on purpose. I also wouldn’t want to put myself in a position to get hurt or put my championship hopes in jeopardy. I’m sorry for the incident with Ivan and am truly bummed that he was injured. I hope Ivan’s injury is not serious and that he can get back to racing as soon as possible. I tried to speak with Ivan after my heat race, but he was still understandably upset about the situation, so I was planning on talking to Ivan later in the evening after everyone cooled down but I didn’t actually have the opportunity since I went straight to the emergency room following the race to get my ankle checked out.
I told you that Toronto didn’t go as planned. During the main event I was having a great race with Chad Reed. I could tell that the Toronto fans loved the race. They were so loud and they really inspired me to ride hard for them. I had just passed Reed for the lead and I wanted to protect the inside line before the finish line jump. Somehow I lost traction or something which caused my momentum to slow and Reed ran into the back of me. The contact sent me off the side of the track. It was no one's fault. I could see Reed exiting the finish line corner. I took a quick glance out of the corner of my eye and entered back on the track to get back in the race. As I entered back on the track to get back in the race Travis Preston was coming over the finish line jump and we collided. We both went down pretty hard, I’m just really happy that Travis wasn’t seriously injured. I hurt my ankle and foot but was able to get back on my bike to finish third.
This is not the way I wanted to start my 2007 season. I feel really bad for the incidents that I was involved with. I want everyone to know that I respect my fellow racers and would never do anything to jeopardize their safety. I want to thank all my fans for all of their support and my sponsors for sticking by me. I really love the sport of motocross and look forward to racing with RC, Reed and the rest of the field this season. If Toronto is any indication of what the racing will be like this season the fans are in for another great year.
-James Stewart #7