With the 40th AMA Supercross series starting in January, we look at James Stewart’s 2014 chances.
Once considered nearly unbeatable, James Stewart has felt the sting of bad luck and injuries the last few years that racing inevitably imposes.
But things were shaping up differently last year for the two-time champ. He’d switched teams and was getting along great with his new Suzuki, coming in well-prepared after a busy off-season full of productive testing.
Then disaster struck in practice at round 1 in Anaheim when Stewart dabbed his foot just wrong and tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He managed to tough it out, but further crashes, bad luck and of course the impossibility of riding to his full potential with a torn ACL, eliminated him from championship contention early in the season.
It wasn’t all bad, however. His high point came at the Atlanta supercross when, under heavy pressure from Ryan Villopoto, he led every single lap in a brilliant performance to take the win at one of the biggest races of the year. Afterward James was all smiles as he professed his pride in his team, telling reporters that overcoming everything that they had overcome to get a win was worth more to him than the win itself.
This year, Stewart is coming in fresh and well-prepped yet again. It’s his second season aboard the Suzuki, and the connection between man and machine will be even stronger than it was last season. On the second half of his career, his ability to challenge reigning supercross champion Ryan Villopoto has been questioned, but Stewart put that notion to rest by besting Villopoto in an intense battle at the 2013 Monster Energy Cup that lasted for nearly ten laps.
If Stewart avoids injury and brings that same intensity to work in 2014, he’ll be competing for wins – and the championship – all season long.
For the latest dirt on moto, follow Red Bull Moto Spy on Twitter.