Anaheim, Calif. (January 6, 2008) -- The Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM Championship, started off with both Monster Energy Kawasaki team riders on the podium after a slippery race at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. James Stewart ran into problems in the first turn after being hit from behind and going down in the middle of the corner. Stewart got back up as fast as he could and began a momentous charge through the field to finish second. While Stewart had problems in the first corner, Timmy Ferry came through clean, running fourth. Ferry moved up to second midway through the race and after a quick battle with Stewart, held on for a third-place finish.
In the first round of the Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites Championship, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Austin Stroupe earned a fifth-place finish in his professional supercross debut, while Brett Metcalfe was slowed by the difficult conditions, finishing 19th.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki Under the Tent
With the weather limiting everyone to 15 minutes of practice, the riders had to learn and adapt to the track conditions very quickly. During the shortened track walk, Stewart, his mechanic Mike Williamson and Ferry, with his mechanic Dana Wiggins, saw the track in better than expected shape despite nearly two inches of rain falling overnight. While the starting area looked to be the biggest trouble spot, both riders decided to go with a more dry setup for the race.
Stewart’s race was defined in the first corner when he was hit from behind as he began to turn in. Stewart went down with other bikes piling on top of him. The defending series champ felt he had a pretty good start and just got caught up in something beyond his control.
“I think I spun a little bit at the gate but overall it was good. I felt like I was by myself, saw where I wanted to be and I think I could have pulled out a holeshot. Then I got hit in the rear and that was the end of the story. I tried to pick up my bike and someone’s bike was on mine so I had to wait for him to pick it up. By that time I knew it would be a tough race.”
Stewart’s controlled aggression during the main event saw him carve through traffic on the slippery track, moving up to his second-place finish. After his problems in the first corner, Stewart regrouped and focused on getting as many championship points as possible.
Said Stewart. “Obviously it would have been nice to win the race, but I’ll tell you, championships feel better. That’s what our goal was and I know how tough they are to win, so I think a second tonight is almost as good as a win. I haven’t lost any confidence. I think it’s motivated me more.”
Stewart wasn’t the only one thinking championship points. After the race, Ferry remarked how important it was to leave the first event with as many points as possible.
“Points are the goal and tonight was a night where you could have lost a lot. To get out with third is almost as good as a win. We’ll move on to the next race because we have 16 more to go.”
Missing last year’s supercross lites season after an injury didn’t hurt Metcalfe during his heat race, as the Australian finished second on board his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki KX™250F. Metcalfe came out of the first corner running fifth and worked his way up through the slippery track conditions to easily transfer to the main event. It was a different story during the main event as Metcalfe was near the front early but a mistake on a triple jump cost him dearly as he finished 19th.
“In the main, I made a good start and I was just being patient but then I made a huge mistake. I was accidentally in first gear for the triple, I didn’t know and by the time I realized it, it was too late. I came up way short and that was the end of my night.”
Stroupe made his supercross debut and the lack of practice on the Anaheim layout didn’t deter the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider as he scored a top-five finish in the second supercross lites heat race. Stroupe ran near the front of the field running as high as third in his first professional supercross race. The 17-year-old kept the momentum going in the main event as he rode with the leaders all race and finished fifth.
Said Stroupe. ”I couldn’t really breathe before the practice or the heat race I was so nervous, but I calmed down before the main and got a good start. The track was really gnarly and practice went terrible. The heat race went terrible, but I ended up with a fifth in the main so I’m really stoked.”
Even though there was no rain Saturday and the track at Angel Stadium was well covered during the downpour overnight on Friday, the track was slick in spots, inconsistent and developed many ruts throughout the program of racing. The inconsistent nature of the track added to the difficulty of the race.
“The track definitely wasn’t easy,” said Ferry. “It was tacky and rutty out there all night. You’re dragging your pegs on the face of jumps. it can be a little scary sometimes. It wasn’t muddy but it wasn’t easy at the same time. I was bummed out with the rain here, because the dirt here was new this weekend.”
During their first taste of the Anaheim track, Monster Energy Kawasaki riders Stewart and Ferry picked up where they left last season as Stewart paced practice for the season opening event with Ferry holding down the third spot. Stewart won last year’s AMA and World Supercross GP titles while Ferry finished third in the championship standings.
The fast layout at Phoenix’s Chase Field awaits the Monster Energy Kawasaki team for the next supercross round. Stewart has three career wins in Phoenix, two in the supercross lites class (2002, ’03) and last year’s supercross victory. Ferry finished fifth at Phoenix in 2007.