Less than 24 hours after being released from his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross, five-time AMA Supercross/Motocross champion, James Stewart Jr. has signed a multi-year contract with Yoshimura Suzuki Racing. Stewart will compete in both motocross and supercross championships aboard the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450, beginning with the first round of the 2012 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship in Sacramento, Calif. on May 19.
When Stewart signed his three-year deal with JGRMX in October 2011, he told ESPN.com in an interview that he tested all five brands and said, "To be honest, I gel with the Suzuki guys really well." Now, just over six months after nearly originally signing with yellow, Stewart has joined his fourth different team in five years.
Late last night on his website, James issued a personal note to "publicly thank everyone affiliated with Joe Gibbs Racing and with Yamaha for everything we've done together this year." Stewart went on to say that "it has been a rough year and it's obvious that this is not the outcome any of us saw coming. But in the end, we believe this is what's best for all of us. There have been a lot of rumors and talk about our relationship, but there's really not a lot of truth in them. Let me also take this chance to be clear. My focus is on racing and fighting for wins. It always has been."
In a press release issued by Yoshimura Suzuki, Stewart said, "I'm really looking forward to joining the team. It's been a pleasure to get to test with these guys and meet the team. I'm very excited -- I love the bike. Ever since I rode it from day one, I knew it was a great opportunity for me to come out and showcase my talent."
Stewart finished the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season ranked seventh overall with two victories. He missed five of the final six races due to a concussion and broken hand suffered in late March in Indianapolis. The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship begins in 12 days in Sacramento, Calif. Stewart won the title with a perfect season in 2008 and he has not competed in the series since.
"James is a great addition to our team," said Don Sakakura, president of Yoshimura Racing. "He is an amazing rider and gifted athlete and we feel very fortunate to have him join Yoshimura Suzuki. We will do everything possible to help ensure his and the team's success. Our company has been built on racing and winning championships and we intend to keep that tradition alive with James and his incredible skill on a motorcycle."
Team manager Mike Webb, as well as long-time Team Suzuki mechanic, Lee McCollum, will be with Stewart as well.
"We all look forward to working with James and a rider of his caliber," said team manager Mike Webb. "We feel very confident we can provide him with the equipment that he needs to ride to his capability. We're working hard right now, though we don't have a lot of time, but we're very focused on getting ready for Hangtown and we're definitely looking forward to the opener."