When James Stewart moved up from the Lites class a few years ago (then known as the 125 class), he was expected to instantly deliver championships for Kawasaki and was paid accordingly. Unfortunately for Stewart and Kawasaki, a certain redhead named Ricky Carmichael wrecked those plans.
While Stewart was busy showing off his new Rolls Royce on the Internet, Carmichael was in the middle of a championship winning streak. The first AMA title Stewart took straight-up against Carmichael was last year’s supercross crown.
With Carmichael now retired, the pressure on Stewart to deliver championships next year, both in supercross and outdoors, is immense. Stewart is the odds-on favorite to win both titles, of course, but an injury kept him from the outdoor title this year (when Carmichael stopped racing with several rounds remaining).
Yamaha’s Chad Reed has been riding superbly during the Fall supercross races (in Paris and Las Vegas). He will certainly do his best to dethrone Stewart next year, but he will have to step up his pace considerably given the fact that Stewart and Carmichael were on a plane above Reed in 2007.