The opening round of the 2010 AMA Supercross/FIM SX World Championship at the Angel Stadium, Anaheim in Los Angeles was won in fine style by defending champion L and M San Manuel's James Stewart. The Floridian gave the new Yamaha YZ450F its first victory in a major series.
The 51st supercross race in Anaheim and the first of three visits in the 2010 schedule saw a tense beginning to the current campaign that runs almost every week across the US and into Canada until the beginning of May. Stewart was dominant in practice and took first pick in the gate for Saturday's main event that was attended by more than 43,000 people.
The 24 year old started in second place and hunted the rear wheel of rookie Ryan Dungey for 17 of the 20 laps before making his play for the lead in the closing stages. He crossed the line for his seventh win in Los Angeles by nearly four seconds from Dungey with Kevin Windham over thirty seconds adrift in third. Stewart's arch-rival, Chad Reed, retired on the second lap after a collision left him with broken wheel spokes.
"The first few laps, I was trying to settle in and see where everything was, checking out the bike and everything was cool, but I messed up a rhythm section and then he [Dungey] got a pretty good gap," Stewart recalled. "I looked up and it was like lap 13, so I had to put in another charge. I felt like I had a lot left in the tank and I was able to catch him, pass him, and then he ended up trying to pass me back, but I was able to hold him off until the end of the last lap and win the race."
"I feel like my endurance is really good, and that's what I really work for hard every week. I felt way better at lap 17 than I did at the beginning."
"It's going to be a long season," he added. "Unfortunately, Chad DNF-ed tonight, so there were a lot of crazy things going on but I'm happy to be out of here with a win and the points lead."
Stewart's success could start another Anaheim 'clean sweep' for Yamaha as the champion claimed two events last year and Joe Gibbs Racing's Josh Grant was another victor. Grant on this occasion did not start the Main Event after feeling the ill-effects of a practice crash on Tuesday before the meeting.
Other YZ450Fs were present in the top half of the leader-board with Stewart's new team-mate Josh Hill running to 6th place and being followed by Ivan Tedesco in 7th and Paris Bercy SX winner Justin Brayton in 8th.
Paulin in AMA-SX debut
Yamaha Monster Energy MX Team's Gautier Paulin made his AMA SX debut at Anaheim in the West Coast Lites class. The Frenchman, supported for the event by Yamaha Star Racing, made the first of three scheduled appearances as part of his winter build-up to the FIM MX2-GP Motocross World Championship and finished in 15th, the victim of two falls, the first coming through contact with another rider while holding 4th spot. "I felt good," he said. "It was my first time. But Trey Canard hit me and knocked me down, and then I fell again later. My speed was good, but I need to be more consistent next week." Broc Tickle was the highest YZ250F runner with 6th position.
Round two of seventeen takes place at Chase Field in Phoenix next Saturday.