Grant Scores Debut Win in AMA Opener

{LINKS}Yamaha continued their streak of victories in the AMA Supercross Championship (also an FIM World Championship) as Joe Gibbs RacingTeam's Josh Grant surprisingly took his YZ450F to first place at the opening round of seventeen in the 2009 campaign at Anaheim in Los Angeles last Saturday. 2008 champion Chad Reed clinched the last race of 2008 and Grant beat both the Australian, and pre-event favourite - and new Yamaha recruit - James Stewart to the chequered flag.

It was a dramatic first AMA outing for Stewart as part of the title-winning L and M San Manuel squad. In front of a bumper collective of 42,309 spectators, the 23 year old took the holeshot in the main event and pull away from the pack with Reed in pursuit. The pair swapped the lead before a collision caused both to hit the dirt. Stewart's bike was hit by the pursuing Kevin Windham and he was unable to restart, pulling out of the sprint after just six laps.

Grant was running in third position prior to the Stewart-Reed incident and fronted the pack for the rest of the race for a sensational debut result in his first meeting in the Supercross category since joining Yamaha during the winter.

"I just kept plugging away and I didn't even look at the board or the laptimes or how many laps were left. I just kept going and when it felt like halfway I looked up and it said '18 laps' and I was like, 'Thank God!' said the young Californian, who had to nurse his machine across the line after catching a trackside banner in his rear wheel with two laps remaining. 'I'm just so pumped, and I didn't want to take too many chances with the banner in the wheel, so I just kept riding and it came through.'

After winning the US Open in Las Vegas and then at Paris, Bercy, it was a disappointing night for Stewart who classified 19th after his retirement.

'I got the holeshot and uncharacteristically I let him (Reed) go by. I was making a few mistakes in the beginning and I wasn't really comfortable yet. He ended up getting by me and actually pulled away,' he said. 'I found my rhythm and came back up and he might have started fading a little bit - I don't know what he was doing - but I went past him pretty quick and then I came into that corner and I missed a shift. Once I clicked back in, all I know is - just like Toronto in 2006 - I was getting hit from the rear. He took me out and I was down and out, and couldn't start my bike again.'

In the Lites category reigning champion Jason Lawrence recovered from his involvement in a first lap pile-up to guide his YZ250F to 4th place.

Round two will take place next Saturday at Chase Field in Phoenix.