The off-season was sillier than usual for the Stewart family, who have benefitted from lucrative multi-year deals in the past. James is obviously still finalising his plans, but Malcolm is now in a position to go racing. The latter will pilot a privateer RM-Z450 with some help from RIDE365 through the rest of the Monster Energy Supercross series.
Stewart has not been on the Suzuki long, as he only just completed his first full day of practice on his race bike. However, despite all of that, he is confident that he’ll be able to turn some heads when the gates drop on Saturday night.
MX Vice: Here we are, just over two days away from Anaheim 2 and your debut. Talk us through everything that has gone in recent weeks, which has left you with a RIDE365 Seven Suzuki.
Malcolm Stewart: A lot of work has happened coming into this. Two weeks ago I still did not know what I was going to do, as the biggest problem was transportation. You know, a lot of riders or people wanted me to just go to a race. What is going to happen when I have to go back east though? [What is going to happen] when I have to go to Minneapolis, St. Louis, back to Seattle or even try to get my bikes to Canada? Transportation is a big deal. If you don’t have that in line, then you cannot go racing.
I felt that, with everything I did, Yoshimura definitely helped me out. I went into Yoshimura R&D, bought my motors and everything that I needed to race. I got a little bit of help from Showa too. Everything that you see on the motorcycles has definitely come out of my pocket. Don't get me wrong, some of it was not full price. I didn’t pay full retail on it! People have definitely helped me out a lot and I’m happy. I can’t go wrong and I’m just glad to be going racing again.
It was just the rig that stopped you from showing up at Anaheim 1 then? The bike and sponsors were all in place at that time?
I wanted to go to Anaheim 1, for sure, but two days before the race I was sat there looking at a stock bike. I tried and I tried, but the situation that I ran into was that when you are not factory and call these people you are on the backburner. You know what I mean? Everybody is stressing out and getting their stuff ready for Anaheim 1 with last-minute testing, so the last thing that they care about is Malcolm Stewart walking into the office and trying to get a motor. I understand that, from being on a team. I understand it from both sides. It is what it is! I am just glad that I am able to race and did not miss too many races.
When did this Suzuki deal come together? Did you know you were riding one before Christmas or was it even later than that?
No, this happened literally at the beginning of this year. I seriously just got a motor two days ago, still have zero testing and there is no suspension testing going on. I just went and bought my motors, they gave them to me and said ‘here you go.’ There is, for sure, no suspension testing that will happen this weekend. It is just going to be bolted on and if I do not like it then we’ll try again next week. I didn’t want to miss too many races, but I just wanted to go in there and do the best that I can. From what I have got, I don’t feel like I’m going to do bad.
Why Suzuki? Obviously you were testing quite a few bikes, so was it just a case of their not being anything on the table at all from the other manufacturers?
No, a dealer! I did not even get my motorcycles from Suzuki. Some kid that we sponsor, thank god we sponsor this kid, with Seven, his Dad so happened to be a Suzuki dealer. He was the one who gave me a motorcycle! I didn’t have a choice. It was either Suzuki or you are sitting on the couch and waiting for a Honda, Yamaha, Husqvarna or whatever. I am glad for that kid! That kid is definitely going to get all the gear and anything that he needs on me.
Going into this weekend, what result would you consider acceptable? Obviously the situation is not ideal but, like you said, you feel ready…
Yeah, I feel ready. You don't know how you are going to do until you get there. I could sit here and say that I am hoping to shoot for a top ten, top five or the box. You do not know until you have done your first race. Obviously I do expect one thing – that is to do good for myself and prove some people wrong. It is never going to happen at the first race, so we’ll just prove some people wrong by the end of the season. Like I said, my goal is to get out there and have fun.
I guess that eventually this will turn into a cool thing. You are under the Seven umbrella, so I guess you’ll have James alongside you at some point?
Maybe. I am hoping so. Hopefully he’ll shoot for around Daytona – there are a lot of predictions. Some people are saying that he might show up around Oakland, but nah. I don’t know where people get their rumours from but, god, whoever it is does a pretty damn good job. You’ll probably see him around the east rounds, but he still does not know the bike situation. I took all the motorcycles and parts, so he doesn't have anything for a Suzuki. He has none!
I don’t care. He is James Stewart and my brother, so I love him, but someone has got to go out there and race! You’ll definitely see him as we move towards the east rounds or maybe a little bit sooner, like at Dallas, but the first thing is getting him a manufacturer and some support.
Obviously you are heavily invested in this team, but are you open to fill-in rides if they become available or is this your deal for the rest of the year?
I am always open for deals. At the same time, RIDE365 have put a lot of money and effort into this. A lot of sponsors have helped me in a lot of ways, so I don’t want to burn a bridge to just do something for supercross. Whatever it is, the situation, it has to make sense. Obviously it is a privateer [effort] and the goal is to get back on a factory ride, hands down, but at the same time I don’t want to go into this, burn a bridge and end things on the wrong terms. I would definitely like fill-in rides and stuff like that, but it also has to make sense for me.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden