James Stewart had little troubles winning the first moto in the MX class at the Glen Helen MX Championship opener. After out-braking holeshotter Mike Alessi going into the second turn, Stewart, showing no ill signs of his four-month layoff, steadily pulled away from the pack, taking an easy-looking win on his Monster Energy/Kawasaki KX450F.

Alessi held second for the entire race, staying well clear of Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry and a freight train of factory Honda riders: Davi Millsaps, Ben Townley, Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco. Alessi crossed the finish line 16.8 seconds behind Stewart and eight seconds ahead of Millsaps. Ferry ended up fourth about four seconds behind Millsaps. Fifth went to Short, followed by Townley and Tedesco.

At one point, Townley was running in a strong fourth when he washed out in a turn and lost three positions.

Putting in a strong and surprising finish was Tuff Yamaha rider Sean Hamblin who finished eighth, a little over 10 seconds ahead of Makita/Rockstar Suzuki’s Michael Byrne. KTM/MDK’s Nick Wey rounded out the top 10.

Eleventh went to Steve Boniface, followed by Antonio Balbi, Jeff Alessi, Cody Cooper, Bobby Bonds and David Vuillemin.

After winning the race, Stewart said, “It just feels so good to be back. I felt good out there, and I just had to stay focused and read my [lap] times.”

The threat of rain has passed, and the second round of motos will be held under mostly sunny skies, as well as in breezy conditions.

AMA Motocross News


Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.

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