When I say Red Bud, what is the first thing that comes to mind? In my mind, the race defines the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series. Usually, Red Bud is held on the weekend following the 4th of July; so the patriotism is at an all-time high at the event. Red Bud is so unique, there was a play in London based on what goes on in the pits! Now that is not a regular occurrence, is it?
Honestly there were not too many surprises at Red Bud. Ryan Villopoto claimed another win in the 450 class, whilst Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen dominated the 250’s, yet again. Of course, it was quite shocking to see Ryan Dungey suffer some misfortune; but in a sport such as this those things happen sometimes. But, I was quite surprised to see James Stewart, Josh Grant and Jeremy Martin on the overall podium, as neither of the three have made too many trips up there thus far this year.
Obviously, James Stewart is always considered a podium and race win contender. However it is no secret that this year has not gone well for him at all. So it was somewhat surprising that he grabbed a pair of second places in the two 450MX motos. I would argue that his results at Red Bud were a bit of a gift though, as he benefitted from the issues that Ryan Dungey had. I am not disputing that he was fast, but he probably should have finished third both times; for James, it was definitely a rebound in a big way.
It seems as though James Stewart has accepted that he is losing a bit of that raw speed that he is known for. In the past, Stewart would have been disappointed with his results thus far this year; but he just seems like he’s having a good time at the races, rather than putting all of his focus on the results. You could argue that this has hindered him. But, it may have helped him too, as he seems to be much more relaxed also. At Red Bud we actually saw a bit of the ‘old James Stewart’, as he fought for the lead with RV and RD in race two, and no one really expected that (wow – I never thought I would type that).
Intriguingly, James Stewart lost the lead in moto two because of a slight error when entering the rollers section. Ryan Villopoto was beginning to force the issue at this point; he had tried to make an aggressive move on the lap before. So, Stewart was fully aware that he had Ryan right on him. Now, the theory out there is that if you apply pressure to the Yoshimura Suzuki rider, he will falter, which is exactly what we saw at Red Bud. When RV got around him, Ryan Dungey then immediately pounced onto the back of James. Again, the pressure was applied, and Dungey got around him straight away.
We have seen James Stewart get bumped out of the top spot a few times this year; however we haven’t really seen him fight back like he did in Red Bud. Once he was passed, he tried to hang onto the Ryan’s and he actually did for a few laps before they dropped him. Maybe this was a sign that he has gotten more comfortable with his bike setup, and in himself? It will be interesting to see if he can keep this momentum rolling into Washougal after the week off.
Josh Grant made his first trip to the podium since Steel City last year and he deserved it. Josh has had many great rides at Red Bud, it is one of those tracks that he just gets on with; every rider has them. Remember his ride there in 2009, where he caught (and passed) Reed to win the overall? Although he was not quite as successful this year, third overall was great for him when you consider all of the injuries and bad luck that he has had to overcome. Obviously, it really helped that he got great starts in both motos; I’m not so sure that he would have been able to catch up from the back to grab those spots. Still, it was an impressive ride, and a step in the right direction for Grant and the entire JGR Yamaha team.
It is always good to see a rookie climb onto the podium for the first time in his career, which is exactly what Jeremy Martin did at Red Bud. Intriguingly that means that one Yamaha rider in each class finished in the top three overall, which is a rare sight, currently. The Star Racing Yamaha rider has shown that he has top five speed countless times this year; however, I was still quite surprised to see him take a massive step forward and straight up beat Musquin for third.
Of course, Jeremy Martin had great starts in the two motos, which really helps. However, he didn’t drop back and he went with the leaders. In race one he finished twenty-three seconds ahead of fifth, and he finished third in moto two, eleven seconds in front of fifth. Jeremy did seem to belong with the ‘big three’ of Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin. His home race (quite literally), Millville, is coming up as well; I do not think that this is the last that we have seen of Jeremy on the podium.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Rockstar Energy MX