SANTA MONICA, CA – James and Malcolm Stewart both rose to the top of the podium in their respective classes in the second Red Bull Straight Rhythm, held at the former horse track at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. Malcolm Stewart, younger brother to James, did not lose a single race in the best-of-three bracket format that pitted two riders against each other on 1/2 mile track. On the heels of Malcolm’s victory in the Lites Class, James battled it out in the Open Class to win his second Red Bull Straight Rhythm Championship. The event marked his return to professional racing, as his last race was Red Bull Straight Rhythm in October 2014, which he also won.
Red Bull Straight Rhythm turns traditional motocross racing on its head by removing all the turns, resulting in a 2,500 foot-long straight track where riders race head-to-head. The linear design included 75 jumps, over 400 feet of whoops and was built from 10,000 cubic yards of dirt. Twenty-four riders competed, broken into two classes — 16 riders in the Open Class (greater then 250cc engines) and 8 riders in the Lites Class (250cc engines or less)
All four top seeds from Friday’s qualifying found their way to the semifinals in the 16-rider Open Class, where the action quickly intensified. Ken Roczen took on last year’s second place finisher Justin Brayton, and while Brayton kept Roczen on his toes in each race, Roczen was able to get the job done and secure his spot in the final. It was the second semifinal that had fans on their feet — James Stewart and Ryan Dungey, facing-off for the first time in 2015. In the first run, Stewart looked to have the advantage, using an incredible line and jumping the dragon back into the whoops, but Dungey somehow gained an edge in the rollers and took the win. But Stewart was able to put two perfect runs together to take the win over Dungey, gaining him a spot in the final.
The stage was then set for an incredible final, with the 2014 Red Bull Straight Rhythm champion Stewart going head-to-head against motocross prodigy Roczen. Roczen had not lost a single race all day, and looked to be on his way to a perfect day, just like Stewart in 2014. But after the first run, it was Stewart just edging Roczen, his whoops speed making all the difference. Coming into the second race, Roczen looked determined to take the final to a third run, but as the two left the gate and hit the first section of the track, Roczen made a minor mistake, and completely checked up, handing the race win and the championship to Stewart, who cruised home for his second consecutive Red Bull Straight Rhythm title.
“I could have quit this year, I could have retired,” said James Stewart. “There’s not really much for me to prove in the record books, but I love racing and I want to continue to get better. I still feel I’ve got a lot left. I didn’t race all year, I’m pretty much coming off the couch, so to come out here and perform, it’s awesome.”
In the eight-rider Lites Class, it was Malcolm Stewart leading the way into the quarterfinals after taking the pole position during Friday’s qualifying. Stewart was pitted against his GEICO Honda teammate Matt Bisceglia and made easy work of their two races, taking the win and a ticket to the semifinals. The other two GEICO Honda riders, Jordon Smith and RJ Hampshire, faced-off next, and it was in their first race that Hampshire got out of shape in the whoops, going straight over the bars, slamming into the dirt and ending his day. The Lites semifinals saw the battle of the teammates, as Malcolm Stewart took on Jordon Smith, while Jessy Nelson went up against Shane McElrath. Stewart had been perfect all weekend, and kept the streak alive against his teammate, who was unable to bring the precision that Stewart brought to the track in either race, giving Malcolm the go-ahead for the Lites final. McElrath was able to take the top spot over his teammate Nelson in their two races, putting McElrath in the final against Stewart.
It was going to be a tough mountain to climb for McElrath, as Stewart had taken a page out of his brother’s playbook from 2014 and had won every single race of his weekend. McElrath and Stewart battled in each race, and while McElrath rode the wheels off his bike, it was not enough to defeat Stewart, who took his first title at Red Bull Straight Rhythm, securing a Stewart sweep in both classes.
“My brother was pushing me more than anything, because he hasn’t raced the entire season,” said Malcolm Stewart. “It was a good day for both of us, and I’m glad we both made history, you definitely see both of us back next year.”
For additional event information, updates and to view the webcast VOD, please go to redbull.com/straightrhythm.