It was a triumphant return to racing for James Stewart who put in a stellar performance on Saturday to claim the 2015 Red Bull Straight Rhythm title winning the head-to-head, best-of-three style format for the second straight year.
Stewart, who was suspended for 16 months after failing to file the necessary paperwork to receive an exemption for using Adderall, last raced a year ago at the 2014 Straight Rhythm when he went undefeated in the best of three matches. He was eligible to return in August but did not race the final rounds of the 2015 Motocross season.
He faced stiffer competition this year and had his back up against the wall after losing the first race in the Semifinals to the 2015 Supercross and Motocross Champion Ryan Dungey but two wins later he was back in the finals taking the victory with a sweep over Ken Roczen.
"It's not bad for being off for a year," said Stewart who rode a 450 bike in the Open class. "Actually I was worried that this stuff would be the one I thing I would lose the most. The racing. I still got it."
Making the victory even more sweet? His brother Malcolm went undefeated in the Lites class taking the title there which consisted of 250 bikes. Malcolm competed in the Open class last year and took third-place.
"I'm proud of my brother, taking off a whole year, coming back and winning this," Malcolm said. "I'm speechless right now."
Starting off, James had little trouble in Round 1 against Nick Schmidt but then faced Josh Hansen in Round 2 who kept it close in the first race but fell too far back in the second race to make it close. The Semifinals featured the matchup everyone was waiting for as Dungey and James came in undefeated at this point.
Dungey fell behind in Race 1 but used the table tops to pull ahead and take the victory for a 1-0 lead giving James his first ever loss in the competition. In Race 2, Stewart fell behind early, took over in the whoops and held on to fend off a late surge from Dungey to force a third and final race. Dungey put in his fastest run of the day for Race 3 but it wasn't enough as Stewart was even faster to claim victory and move on for a finals showdown against Ken Roczen.
Race 1 was as close as everyone expected but in Race 2 Roczen crossed the center line, an automatic disqualification, and slowed considerably letting Stewart cruise home for victory.
"You guys don't understand how good it feels to be back I'm just stoked right now," James said.
Dungey faced Justin Brayton, who finished second last year, in a runoff for third place and won both races.
In the Lites class, Malcolm faced Matt Bisceglia in Round 1 and though Bisceglia kept it close Malcolm managed a sweep to move on. Jordan Smith also kept it close but couldn't get past Malcolm who then completed his undefeated streak by beating Shane McElrath twice for the Lites crown. Smith took third-place with a win over Jessy Nelson.
RJ Hampshire went down hard against Smith in Round 1 and was knocked unconscious in the Straight Rhythm's first significant crash since it started last year. Hampshire was taken to the hospital and on Sunday sent a message through social media indicating he was OK despite having some bleeding in his brain.
2015 Straight Rhythm Open Class Results
- James Stewart
- Ken Roczen
- Ryan Dungeyv
- Justin Brayton
2015 Straight Rhythm 250 Class Results
- Malcolm Stewart
- Shane McElrath
- Jordon Smith
- Jessy Nelson
Written By: AndrewT