Yoshimura Suzuki's James Stewart raced his RM-Z450 to victory in both 450 motos to take the overall win in round one of the AMA Motocross Championship at Hangtown in Sacramento, California at the weekend.
In his inaugural race on the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 - and returning to the series after four years absence - Stewart was nothing short of flawless: The first moto saw him get a great start and take the lead on the first lap and from there, he slowly but surely created a gap and led all laps to take the win. In the second moto, Stewart got shuffled around a bit on the start but quickly made short shrift of the competition. Taking the lead, he rode a calculated, efficient race and again gapped the field while remaining in his comfort zone. Anything but victory was simply out of the question.
"I couldn't ask for anything better," said Stewart. "The Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was really fast and consistent. In the first moto I got a great start and I was in the lead on the first lap. I rode my own race, and got a good gap and was able to win that one. In the second moto, I had to work for it. I had to come around some guys, then I was able to stay there and keep the pace. As the day went on, the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was just better and better and better. I have to give it up to the team for all their hard work. I don't want to get over-confident, but to start off like this - knowing this is one of my worst tracks - and know we can keep building, makes it so good."
Likewise, Australian team mate Brett Metcalfe turned in a promising performance in both motos. In the first one, Metcalfe got a good start on the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 and worked his way up to second before fatigue set in and he finished fourth. In the second moto, Metcalfe again ran in a podium position before finishing fifth. At the end of the day, Metcalfe - who is in a three-way tie for third in Championship points - was happy to finish fifth overall.
"I've been looking forward to the start of the motocross season," said Metcalfe. "The Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 is working great and Motocross is a nice change of pace. In moto one, I got a top-five start and I was feeling strong. I made some moves early and moved up to second, but wasn't able to finish at the same intensity level I started with. Moto two was much the same, though I didn't have a very good start. My speed and skills on the Suzuki feel really good right now, so I was able to make passes and move through the pack. Again, I just wasn't able to finish the moto strong. We need to work on that, because if I want to contend for wins, that's what I've got to do."
As the Yoshimura Suzuki squad prepares for round two next weekend, both Stewart and Metcalfe are enthusiastic about the race in Texas. Stewart is particularly excited about the upcoming event because he'll be contesting it as the series points leader and, as a result, will run the leader's red number plate.
"Texas is going to be tough," said Stewart. "But we have to take it week by week. I get to ride the red plate on the Suzuki and that's pretty cool. This will be the first time I've ever had it, in Motocross or Supercross, so that should be pretty special."
Added Metcalfe: "I'm looking forward to Texas. That's always a physically-demanding track, so the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 will work well there. We've got to go in confident, and after this round, get the appropriate rest, work hard this week and come out stronger for Texas and build from there."
Team Yoshimura Suzuki Racing's next event is the second round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship on Saturday, May 26th, at the Freestone National in Wortham, Texas.
Hangtown 450 Motocross Results:
1. James Stewart (Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450) 2. Ryan Dungey 3. Mike Alessi 4. Andrew Short 5. Brett Metcalfe (Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450) 6. Broc Tickle 7. Davi Millsaps 8. Jake Weimer 9. Josh Grant 10. Nico Izzi
2012 450 Motocross Standings:
1. James Stewart (Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450) - 50 2. Ryan Dungey - 42 3. Mike Alessi - 34 4. Andrew Short - 34 5. Brett Metcalfe (Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450) - 34 6. Davi Millsaps - 29 7. Broc Tickle - 29 8. Jake Weimer - 26 9. Josh Grant - 25 10 Nico Izzi - 21