With the added pressure of needing to win all four races remaining on the schedule, San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart passed Suzuki’s Mike Alessi on the opening lap of tonight’s main event in Toronto’s Rogers Centre and pulled away to claim his ninth win of the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season.
In three of the last four races, series points leader Chad Reed has been able to capitalize on Stewart’s mistakes, turning them into three wins and a sizable lead in the series standings. But the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider was not able to find a chink in Stewart’s armor tonight and eventually saw his 11-point lead dwindle to eight at night’s end.
At the end of 20 laps of racing, Stewart easily took the win over Reed by a 12-second margin.
“Every week it’s 100 percent,” said Stewart. “Everyone makes mistakes once in a while but it’s a long championship and there’s gonna be drama all the way to the end. I went too far inside (on the start) but it worked out and then I turned it on. I want to thank all my guys at San Manuel. We’ve been working hard all week to get here. At the end of the day, I know me, my team, and everyone involved are giving 100 percent and that’s all we can do.”
Reed finished each and every lap of the main in second place and the defending champ rallied during the early laps, closing slightly when Stewart made a bobble or two on the deeply rutted course. But Stewart seemed willing to take a few more chances than Reed and eventually pulled away to a five-second lead at the midway point of the race, putting the race out of hand.
Rounding out the podium was Team Yamaha’s Josh Hill, who made an amazing run through the pack, coming from 11th on the first lap to third at the finish. The defining moment in the race for Hill was a mid-race pass for third on JGRMX/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant, who also came from way back.
Grant ended the night in fourth ahead of Honda’s Ivan Tedesco, while Geico Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham and Red Bull Honda’s Davi Millsaps were sixth and seventh.
Honda’s Andrew Short, who sits in third in the series standings, tore a bicep muscle in practice this afternoon but rode through the pain to salvage ninth after running in third during the first several laps.
AMPM Boost Mobile Yamaha’s Jason Lawrence turned the eighth-fastest time in practice but took a rock to the hand in the second qualifying session and decided to skip the main event after trying to ride his heat race.
“I just couldn’t hold on,” said Lawrence. “I tried to ride the heat race but I just wasn’t able to do anything, my hand was just too bad.”
With four races left of the 17-race title chase, the championship battle appears to be coming down to the wire finale in Las Vegas, with Reed now leading Stewart 293 points to 285.
“I’ll take being eight points up over being eight points down,” Reed said after the race. “Each race is pretty much a championship race now and neither one of us can make a mistake. Whoever makes the first mistake is going to throw it away.”
In the AMA Supercross Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel claimed the AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Regional Championship with one race remaining by taking his fourth win of the series.
Pourcel controlled the race from the start, leading first Star Racing’s Broc Tickle before ending the race with a nine-second margin of victory over teammate Austin Stroupe.
“It feels great to come to America and achieve so much success in my first full season,” said Pourcel. “I’ve worked really hard all season and so has my team. Tonight I got a good start and had a really good first lap. I’m really proud to win my first championship. It’s been a really great season.”
Tickle held on for an impressive third place finish, his best result of the season, while
Canidae Kawasaki’s Brandon Jesseman and Star Racing’s Matt Lemoine rounded out the top five.
Supercross Results: 1. James Stewart (Yam); 2. Chad Reed (Suz); 3. Josh Hill (Yam); 4. Josh Grant (Yam); 5. Ivan Tedesco (Hon); 6. Kevin Windham (Hon); 7. Davi Millsaps (Hon); 8. Matt Boni (Hon); 9. Andrew Short (Hon); 10. Ben Coisy (Hon).
Lites Results: 1. Christophe Pourcel (Kaw); 2. Austin Stroupe (Kaw); 3. Broc Tickle (Yam); 4. Branden Jesseman (Kaw); 5. Matt Lemoine (Yam); 6. Wil Hahn (KTM); 7. Matt Goerke (Suz); 8. Vince Friese (Hon); 9. Daniel Blair (Hon); 10. Blake Wharton (Hon).