There was no agitation in reigning Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP and AMA Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael’s demeanor during the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series kickoff press conference at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, today, no trembling of fear in his voice as he sat just inches from the man who most are predicting will be his chief rival in the 2006 title chase, James Stewart.
“It would just be awesome to win, and hopefully all of us can stay healthy,” Carmichael said. “That’s the biggest thing, I would just love for it to come down to the last race, and may the best man win. I want there to be great racing, down to the wire, like myself and James had in Toronto. I think that’s what the sport needs. It would be great for television, and I’m really looking forward to it. I would love to win it. It would be very special, but it’s always hard to beat that first one [championship].”
At Anaheim this Saturday, what most Supercross fans and series insiders were predicting for 2005, could finally come true in 2006. Carmichael will be looking for his 48th career Supercross win and his seventh Anaheim Supercross win. And he will likely be challenged by Stewart for that win. Carmichael and Stewart have been on a collision course since their days as mini riders, and that battle appears to have a set tone already, with Stewart coming off of big wins at the first two rounds of the Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP in Canada, a fact that Carmichael acknowledged at the Anaheim press conference.
“He’s progressed,” Carmichael said. “He’s come a long way, and he’s an amazing rider. He does a lot of things on a bike that other people can’t do, and he has a new style and a new way of riding, and I’m here to try to see if I can beat him. He had a two great rounds at the Canadian rounds, and he gave us a lot of motivation. It’s great to a see a rider evolve like he has.”
But giving props to Stewart doesn’t mean giving up on Carmichael’s part. Carmichael said that he believes he is ready for the straight fight that seems inevitable this time around, and he said he used the Canadian rounds as study time to probe for weaknesses in Stewart, who appears to be in the best form of his career right now.
“I think there are areas,” Carmichael said. “I know where James is good, and I know where he’s not as good as he is. The number one thing is that I have to be in that position to capitalize on if he makes a mistake or something like that, but it’s not going to happen if he is eight seconds ahead in three laps. All of us up here are too good a riders and too talented, and if you give us some breathing room, unless something detrimental happens, the game is pretty much over. For me, it’s fun. I feel that I can learn off of it, and I can get better.”
Still, when pressed for a prediction as to whether or not he would win a fifth career AMA Supercross title, Carmichael pretty much punted.
“You write down all the plusses that I have, and I think that I have some really good things leaning my way,” Carmichael said, “ but I’ve never been a guy to sit here and spray my mouth and say I’m going to kick everybody’s butt and win this and that. It’s going to be a tough task, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The goal is just to be in the hunt when the Amp’D Mobile AMA Supercross Series leaves California, “and then just to get a little bit more in that comfort zone when we move back East,” Carmichael said. “It would be very special for me to get out of here in the hunt. It’s just going to be consistency. It’s going to be the same as it has always been. It’s going to be long. We have 13 races in a row, and I don’t think anybody knows what to expect other than that it’s going to be long and it’s going to be interesting, so I’m just in the mindset to take it one race at a time.”