Monster Energy Kawasaki Sees a Win-Win Situation at Glen Helen Irvine, Calif.- Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart showed the motocross world he is fully recovered from his knee injury. Stewart swept the season opening motocross event at...
Monster Energy Kawasaki Sees a Win-Win Situation at Glen Helen
Irvine, Calif.- Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart showed the motocross world he is fully recovered from his knee injury. Stewart swept the season opening motocross event at Glen Helen Raceway near San Bernardino, Calif. leaving no doubt he is ready for the 2008 outdoor season. His teammate Timmy Ferry finished fourth overall. In the motocross lites class, it was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Austin Stroupe who claimed his first overall win. Ryan Villopoto won the second moto to finish runner-up overall. Brett Metcalfe finished fifth overall and Branden Jesseman was 14th.
Good to Be Back
After undergoing knee surgery in late January, Stewart returned to the racetrack for the first time at Glen Helen. Since the surgery Stewart had targeted the start of the motocross season for his return and worked hard with his trainer to reach that goal. Though he has only been riding for four weeks, he showed little rust claiming the holeshot in the second moto and winning by at least six seconds in each moto.
"It feels good," said Stewart. "I had a solid weekend from the time I got here. It is good to be back in front of the fans and working with the team. It was a great experience and fun today. I felt awesome in both motos and that is a great feeling. After my surgery, I wasn't sure I would be back for this race. Then when I started riding I was thinking it would be best to just go out and concentrate on having fun. But to come out here and win was unexpected."
Your First Time
Surprise was the first emotion Stroupe felt when he won his first overall motocross race. Not surprised that he could win, but rather surprised because it is hard to figure out points and ride a moto at the same time. In the first moto, the 17-year-old Stroupe got a good start and moved his way up to third. Just before the two-lap board was displayed, Stroupe got by his teammate Metcalfe for second and finished less than a second behind the winner. In the second moto, Stroupe jumped out to the lead, pacing the field for five laps before he went down. He quickly recovered and rejoined in fourth. Not knowing how many points he needed for the win, Stroupe rode to try and make the podium, passing his teammate Metcalfe once again to get third and enough points for the victory.
"It feels great to get the win," said Stroupe. "I was excited to be running at the front with those guys and I thought I had a chance for the win. I was trying to add the points in my head after I went down, but really it didn't matter. I just wanted to get the best finish I could. When I was leading, I think Ryan (Villopoto) was a little faster than me so I was pushing it and the front wheel washed out. Once I got up I knew I had to get as good of a finish as I could."
Villopoto, the two-time motocross lites champion, had to fight back in the first moto as a rider went down in front of him on the first lap, leaving him no place to go. "RV" finished the first lap in tenth and slowly worked his way up to fifth by the checkered flag. In the second moto Villopoto avoided the trouble and took the lead on lap six, never looking back and winning by more than six seconds. The five-one finish gave Villopoto enough points for second overall.
"The first moto started off pretty slow," said Villopoto. "So I tried to make something happen, but it just wasn't possible. We went to the second moto and got a better start. I was pressuring Austin, waiting for a mistake and he never made one. Then I went to put a push in to pass him and he actually went down right there. We got good points today and the goal is still to get the championship."
Ferry rode consistently throughout the weekend and got good starts in both of the motos. In the first, he came out of the gate third and stayed there until late in the race. In the second moto, Ferry started fifth and moved up to fourth. With two laps to go, he was challenging for the last podium spot when he went down trying to make the pass.
"I rode really consistent," said Ferry. "We got a good start to the season and I wanted to get on the podium. Late in the second moto I tried a new line to get around Davi (Millsaps) and a lapper. I guess I rode a little over my head and the back end hopped out and I went down. I kept the bike running so I was able to get going quickly and still got a four-four result. I know I had the endurance to get by and get into third, but it just didn't happen."
Metcalfe rode two strong races on Sunday never running lower than fourth in either moto. During the first, he was constantly hounded by Stroupe as they gained on the leader finishing on the podium. While in the second moto, he settled into a nice rhythm to earn the 3-4 finish.
Top Five Metcalfe rode two strong races on Sunday never running lower than fourth in either moto. During the first, he was constantly hounded by Stroupe as they gained on the leader finishing on the podium. While in the second moto, he settled into a nice rhythm to earn the 3-4 finish.
During the off-season Stewart hired trainer Aldon Baker and all of the hard work they have put has begun to pay off.
"We worked on a lot of stuff," said Stewart. "It actually started even before the surgery. The hard work we were doing in the off-season helped me to recover more quickly. Then when I started riding I just concentrated on riding. We knew it was going to be tough, getting back for this race, but we were able to get it done. I'm in the best shape of my life and it showed this weekend."
Though he's not riding for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team during the outdoor season, Travis Preston made a surprise appearance at the race. "TP" lives just north of the track and after one of the mechanics sent him a photo of a fan wearing a Preston jersey, Travis decided to come out and see the team and enjoy some racing.
No Time to Celebrate
Even though Stroupe earned his first win at Glen Helen he won't spend much time celebrating. With Hangtown scheduled for next weekend Stroupe will be back on the bike getting ready to earn his second win.
Glen Helen Raceway has always had the reputation of being one of the more difficult tracks on the motocross schedule. This year was a little different as unseasonably cool weather and midweek rains tamed the track conditions. "Normally it is hot and the last race of the season," said Villopoto. "That means everyone is beat down and tired. This year it was cool out and the track was in good shape."