Kawasaki Racing Team SX ReportMonday, January 30, 2006 | 10:59 AM
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KAWASAKI RACING TEAM ENJOYS SUCCESS IN RAINY SAN FRANCISCO
JAMES STEWART WINS, MICHAEL BYRNE IS 4TH
SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 28, 2006) – Kawasaki Racing Team enjoyed another successful weekend on Saturday night as James Stewart won a mud-filled battle at the fourth round of the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series at SBC Park in San Francisco. The win was Stewart’s fourth of the season, including the World SX-GP rounds, and brought him to within two points of fellow Floridian and points leader Ricky Carmichael. The win also advanced Stewart into a four point lead over Carmichael in the Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP Series.
After consistent rain late in the day, the main events were shortened following a single practice session to 8-laps for the Supercross Lites class and 12-laps for the Supercross class. By race time, the rain increased which made for very wet and muddy conditions and turned every racer’s strategy into an issue of survival instead of racing.
Stewart began the rain-soaked evening by slipping and sliding his way through the mud-laden track to win his heat race aboard his KX™450F. “I’ve never raced at a track that’s this muddy,” Stewart said from the podium. “It’s terrible out there and I’ve just got to stay up, it’s going to be a tough long night.”
In the main event, Stewart launched his KX450F out of the gate and quickly took over the lead by the end of lap one with Carmichael close behind. As the pair pulled away from the rest of the field, the mud took its toll on many riders, turning the track into a parking lot of stuck and stalled motorcycles. By lap four, Stewart was able to successfully navigate the deep ruts and lapped riders to gain a four-second lead over Carmichael. By lap nine, Carmichael pulled to within striking distance of Stewart and passed him with three laps remaining. Stewart, undaunted by the lead change, rode with patience and determination to pass Carmichael on the final lap and held on to capture his fourth main event win for the season.
“The first few laps I was in my own world and thinking that I just wanted to finish,” said Stewart during the post race press conference. “I knew Carmichael was behind me. I could hear the crowd going crazy and I didn’t know if he crashed or if he was right up on me. When he got in front of me, I was thinking it was over. Then I caught back up to him and ended up making it happen from there.”
Stewart’s teammate, Michael Byrne, punched his ticket to the main event by winning his semi-qualifier. In the main event, Byrne got a good start and had his Kawasaki KX450F running in the fifth position after one lap. He slid into the fourth spot one lap later and would eventually finish in that position behind race winner Stewart, Carmichael and Nick Wey.
Byrne sits in fifth place in the standings with 58 points. Carmichael leads the series by 2 points over Stewart.
In the Supercross Lites class action, Team Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto won his heat race and carried the momentum straight into the main event by grabbing the holeshot award aboard his KX250F to start the eight-lap mud-fest. Unfortunately, however, his lead was eliminated after a crash at the end of the opening lap sent the 17-year-old rookie back in the pack. Villopoto’s teammate, Grant Langston, endured a tough start and also crashed on the lead lap. Both riders would regroup and were within the top-ten by the halfway point, but the leaders were already way out front despite the muddy conditions. As the checkered flag dropped, Villopoto would hold on to capture sixth place while Langston, who crashed again, was forced to accept a 15th place finish.
The Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series heads back to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., next Saturday, February 4th, for the third of three stops at the popular Southern California venue.