I feel sorry for James Stewart in 2013. Despite trying to do things the right way it is still going wrong.
The Floridian splits opinion more than any other rider in motocross. Rarely has such explosive talent been seen on a motocross or supercross track but rarely has someone so talented crashed so often or missed so many races.
It is testament to Stewart’s talents that despite five AMA championships people feel Stewart has not truly fulfilled his potential, but that potential is also the weight on his shoulders that seems to weigh him down.
Some of the criticism has been brought on by himself. Stating he believed he could beat Jeremy McGraths all time win record of 72 races wasn’t the best thing to do especially given the last couple of years of his career.
Bubba’s World was another PR disaster, especially as he was also on a supercross only contract at the time. Unfocused and lacking dedication was the implication, along with seemingly unnecessary crashes and Speed TV’s Ralph Sheheens insistence on calling him ‘the fastest man on the planet’ at every opportunity. It all conspired to create a fiercely divided opinion on Stewart with the fans.
The last three years of Stewart’s career have again seen flashes of blistering speed but also more and more big crashes. The odd outdoor events he did do didn’t go as planned and then Stewart would disappear from the races again, much to the fan’s disdain.
Even last season when he did come back for a full outdoor season crashes and injury led Stewart to throw in the towel when he couldn’t win and concentrate on the 2013 Supercross series.
At the first round of the series Stewart did a qualifying lap that in some way encapsulated his career. He qualified pole with a blistering lap but with two turns to go twisted his knee without crashing and tore his ACL.
When everything is going well with Stewart something always seems to go wrong and this was another classic example. Be it riding over the edge or simple bad luck or even a poor decision, circumstances will conspire against him and usually Stewart will immediately quit to lick his wounds before coming back again.
This time though Stewart is toughing it out, he rode the very same night and got a commendable eighth place doing something that Stewart has never been able to do – ride smart and not take any risks.
He did the same at round two with a seventh and with all the carnage around him he was still in the hunt for the title.
Unfortunately bad luck hit James at rounds three and four. Stewart crashed after getting into a battle with Josh Grant in round three and then got knocked down in the second turn at round four forcing him to DNF with broken throttle.
James did however bounce back with a fourth the last couple of weekends to show he is starting to build some momentum.
But then jut when it looks like James is back to form with an impressive win over Ryan Villopoto in Dallas, his clutch breaks on the line!
A truly incredible season of bad luck has left Stewart with no podiums in the first seven races. No one would have predicted that at the start of the season!
In a bid to change his fortunes Stewart even has his date behind him now at the gate instead of his mechanic which shows just how much Stewart is searching for something to give him a shot at another race win.
It was also revealed that Stewart has hired a trainer in the last couple of weeks to try and get him in better shape and find a good way to train without upsetting his knee.
It some ways has been a new James Stewart this season, and despite all that he has went through, the way he has handled it has maybe made it one of his most impressive years so far.
Through the adversity Stewart is showing the commitment and perhaps a slight change in direction from the win or crash mentality that he has had all of his career.
It is just unfortunate that it still hasn’t clicked for him yet when he is trying to do things differently.
When it does James will hopefully be in a position to win races again and that will only add to the excitement in what has been a breathtaking AMA Supercross series so far!
Article by Jonathan McCready