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Rumors Prove True: James Stewart Switches to Suzuki (with video)

It is hard to describe this as anything other than a PR disaster for Yamaha. For some time, speculation on the Internet and in the pits has run rampant that James Stewart was unhappy with his JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha race bike, and Pirelli tires, and wanted to switch to a Suzuki. In the video below, you can see a disgusted JGRMX team manager Jeremy Albrecht discussing the situation several weeks ago, when a rival team had the audacity to display a Suzuki with the number 7 on its plates (Stewart’s long-time number).  The story goes that Stewart tested a Suzuki before signing with JGRMX, and liked the bike better than the Yamaha, but signed with JGRMX because he got a better deal than Suzuki was willing to offer. After his disastrous, crash-filled Supercross series (during which he reportedly ran Dunlop tires at one round despite the Pirelli sponsorship of his team), Stewart has now officially been signed by Yoshimura Suzuki to a multi-year deal that will begin immediately with the opening round of the outdoor series at Hangtown on May 19.

Here’s a press release from Yoshimura, and some photos of Stewart getting ready for Hangtown on his new machine, which will feature Dunlop tires (look closely at the sponsor stickers on his new bike pictured below).

Yoshimura Suzuki Racing has signed Supercross and Motocross Champion James Stewart to a multi-year contract effective immediately.

Stewart will compete in both AMA Pro Motocross and Supercross aboard the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 beginning with the first round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship in Sacramento, California on May 19th.

Stewart, often called the “fastest man on the planet,” comes to Yoshimura Suzuki with a long list of accomplishments: The 26-year-old native Floridian has amassed six AMA Championships including two AMA Supercross titles and a perfect-season AMA Pro Motocross Championship. He also has an FIM World Supercross Championship as well as two Motocross of Nations titles to his credit.

Said Stewart: “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 and ever since I rode it from day one I knew it was a great opportunity for me to come out and showcase my talent. With Mike Webb as the Team Manager and Don Sakakura the President of Yoshimura Racing, it’s been great what they’ve been doing. The whole team is phenomenal. We’re all excited to get the ball rolling and see what we can do over the next few years. I just want to thank everyone at Yoshimura and American Suzuki for giving me this opportunity.”

“James is a great addition to our team,” said President of Yoshimura Racing, Don Sakakura. “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 and the rest of the Yoshimura Suzuki squad, will support Stewart in his run for the 2012 AMA Motocross Championship and beyond.

Said Webb: “We’re extremely pleased with the announcement of James joining the Yoshimura Suzuki team. We all look forward to working with James and a rider of his calibre. 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.”

Stewart will join Yoshimura Suzuki Racing team mate Brett Metcalfe at the first round of the 2102 AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Hangtown in Sacramento, California on Saturday May 19th.

45 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Good luck Bubba,this could really make things interesting

  2. jon says:

    Crash,crash, bang and a win. More crashes and bangs equals a really hard time getting a crown and no matter what Bubba rides until he figures this out he is a MX wast of talent. On top of it he seems to have problems meshing with his teams. Ya think maybe spoiled brat or a ego problem!>?!

    • Gary says:

      Ahem …

      World finals 2006 FIM World Supercross Grand Prix Champion
      2007 FIM World Supercross Grand Prix Champion
      2006 Motocross of Nations Champion
      2008 Motocross of Nations Champion

      2009 FIM World Supercross Champion
      Regional finals 2003 AMA 125 West Supercross Champion

      2004 AMA 125 East Supercross Champion
      National finals 2002 AMA 125 Motocross National Champion
      2004 AMA 125 Motocross National Champion
      2007 AMA Supercross Champion
      2008 AMA Motocross National Champion

      2009 AMA Supercross Champion

  3. kevin says:

    “After his disastrous, crash-filled Supercross series (during which he reportedly ran Dunlop tires at one round despite the Pirelli sponsorship of his team)”

    Yeah, I’m sure the brand of ties turned you from FMOTP to MDMOTP (most disasterous man on the planet). Dufus. Because everyone on Dunlops were crashing themselves silly.

  4. Joey Wilson says:

    I don’t understand why Yoshimura would stick their neck out like this with JS.

    It wasn’t that JGR would not cozy up to Dunlop; they drew the line and wouldn’t put blue lights on his Yamaha, and wear a cop helmet during his motos !

    • Gary says:

      Just a wild guess as to why they would stick their neck out: Stewart is the fastest MXer in the world. That might have figured into it. Look, he’s a crasher. It looks to me like, on any given night, he is unwilling to settle for anything but a win. And as most people know, racers win championships by being consistent, not crashing, and accepting top-10 finishes on an off night. If he can adopt this approach, he’ll be awfully tough to beat. I suspect he’s still got some championships in him. I suspect Yoshimura thinks so, too.

  5. ZX14 says:

    I guess he’s going to get a Boosa to ride on the street now.

  6. HalfBaked says:

    People seem to conveniently forget that many of the critical remarks directed at Stewart are by implication offensive and insulting to the very knowledgeable and experienced folks at Suzuki that selected him to be on their team.

  7. MotoGraph says:

    yeah I guess that’s why he left the higher paying ride? If you aren’t selecting your team by how much they pay you then what are you selecting it by exactly? Which bike you like the most? Oh wait… that’s what he’s doing now isn’t he? Why exactly should he take a lesser offer if it doesn’t offer anything more than the better paying job? I guess you enjoy being paid less for doing the same work?

    Interesting choice of words “MX Gangster wanna-be.” Yeah wow, I’ve never heard of any 20 something year old racers who are making tons of money buying expensive cars and doing stupid shit. Yeah that never happens. Is Pastrana an “MX Gangster wanna-be? He was one of the fastest guys in his time but couldn’t keep it on two wheels, so now he makes a living doing stupid shit. What’s the difference? Oh, he’s not black!? Is that it?

    • mark says:

      motograph, you really need to get a life outside of hero worship of bubba! Do you really think some are bashing this arrogant, dangerous, crashing waste of talent because he is black?
      Most other supercross and MX stars are fellows that show true character, humility and drive. This ain’t the NBA or NFL, and that is one reason I still watch. When it becomes about people like bubba, then I am out!

  8. Pat Walker says:

    The story goes that Stewart tested a Suzuki before signing with JGRMX, and liked the bike better than the Yamaha

    How did that work out james? LMFAO Only #7 would do something that stupid.
    I love the picture of you sitting on the stool, you are as smart as you look.

    • MotoGraph says:

      Yeah, only a genius like you would pass up MORE money and a chance to be on a team owned by a legendary owner, thus opening future opportunities for racing on 4 wheels after you retire from MX, just so you can ride a bike that you liked marginally better. Why didn’t he think of that?!?!!

      • Pat Walker says:

        james didn’t think of that because $ is more important to him than winning. I think his stellar performance closed the door on any 4 wheel opportunity at jg. I have not seen james race a car but I hope he is smarter behind the wheel than he is behind the bars.

        • MotoGraph says:

          Uhhh am I missing something? Suzuki offered him less money, and that’s where he’s going now. So I’m not sure how you think that means all he cares about is the money. If you were in his shoes you would have done the same exact thing. Do you think the JGR team isn’t capable of winning? They obviously are, so why wouldn’t you go with a winning team that’s also paying you more? HELLO?

          • Pat Walker says:

            Ya your missing something – it’s called a brain.

          • Dave says:

            Nobody knows what Suzuki (and the collection of companies that sponsor this team) are paying him except for Suzuki and James. Just because JGMX was a bigger contract when he signed it doesn’t mean the Suzuki offer stayed the same.

  9. craigj says:

    Memo to Toyota. You may want to reedit the TV commercial with Bubba, Joe Gibbs, and Mark Barnett. Just a suggestion.

  10. Jamo says:

    I was going to buy a Suzuki DR-Z125. Now I’m going for the Kawasaki instead.

  11. mxman420 says:

    He is the greatest waste of natural talent. To expect to to just because you have talent smacks the face of rider who works there butt off to get there. He signed a multi year deal with JGR and quit because he couldn’t win. SO Suzuki signs him to a multi year deal? What happens if he doesn’t “like your bike”? You gonna let him quit too? Or let him take out half the field because Daddy Bubba says so? I’m sorry, but anyone who supports this thug deserves what they get! Just ask JGR!

    • MotoGraph says:

      We don’t know why he left JGR. Were you there? You’re only speculating. If you had bothered to read the story you would have read “The story goes that Stewart tested a Suzuki before signing with JGRMX, and liked the bike better than the Yamaha.” So we do know that he liked the Suzuki better. Remember when McGrath said he couldn’t ride the Honda when they came out with the new frame and he left? Where were you then? Or did you forget about that mxman”420?”

      try reading the story before making dumb “thug” comments.

      • Dave says:

        McGrath left Honda because they wanted to own his likeness and limit him from doing all kinds of other things away from racing (there was an incident where he was video’d riding a Yamaha watercraft, Honda didn’t make any at the time). He had the pull to go and do his own thing. Was a huge embarrassment for Suzuki, who had the undisputed best rider in the world on their bike and he couldn’t win with it.

        I also heard that he didn’t like the new Honda chassis but don’t believe that it was a big factor in the move. And +1 on all the haters. We have no idea what really drove him to leave. Yamaha had a multi year deal with him and he’s probably taking a pay cut (somebody had to buy out that contract). He’s the best of his generation and will likely be unstoppable on a bike that he’s comfortable on.

  12. deltaboy says:

    That picture says it all. Stewart is such a low class wanna be thug. No wonder people enthusiastically boo him at every race. Fortunately for us here aren’t many more bridges for him left to burn and there are better, faster, total package riders coming up through the ranks that are not PR nightmares. Who is left after Suzuki? In the meantime, its nice to have someone to cheer against.

    • Chris says:

      He won the Supercross title twice. If you have not done that, then I reckon you have nothing to say. Supercross is anything but easy and hard enough to stay healthy. The bikes are faster than ever and the tracks more difficult than ever. You can name call him all you want, but he did something we did not, and can not do, he won!…Twice! He does not owe anyone anything.

      • ninja9r says:

        “The bikes are faster than ever”…….. The MEN who rode 500cc 2 strokes in anger might dispute that part of your statement.

        • Dave says:

          They probably wouldn’t dispute it. The current 450′s make 65+hp that’s tractable. The old 500 2T’s made a violent 60-70hp and almost nobody could ride them well, let alone fast (250′s got around most tracks faster in the last few years). I bet Mike Larocco would’ve loved to have his CRF450 to race in the 500cc class.

        • Chris says:

          True, so well, …in the modern era. Nothing to sneeze at anyway. Yeah sometimes James acts like a street guy (impersonating a police officer). But saying he is a wanna be thug as deltaboy said, that just gets into way too big a philosophical and cultural discussion that is endless. The median income for a household in the city he grew up in was $27,636. I am sure there were some bad influences there, having lived in FL myself, where bad is truly very bad, and he chose not to follow those paths so good for him!

    • Vrooom says:

      It’s pretty hard to argue against Stewart’s talent. He’s the only guy to challenge and occasionally beat Carmicheal. He sure didn’t show it this year, whether that was the bike or something else I don’t know. Judging him on his looks is something older folks have done to younger folks for centuries, try to get over it.

    • Gary says:

      Yeah, ’cause none of those other riders wears their caps backwards, huh? Jeesh … gi’me a break.

    • MotoGraph says:

      stupid comment

    • HalfBaked says:

      Incredibly ignorant comment bordering on discriminatory in its tone.

  13. T. Rollie says:

    If Suzuki brings him back his mojo, great! If not, then what? Kawasaki?

  14. Gary says:

    Good luck, Bubba. Here’s hoping that new bike helps you recapture the glory. You are still the fastest MXer the world has ever seen.

  15. Brian says:

    will the Suzuki be tuned in a way that it doesn’t crash?

    • Al says:

      I agree Brian. I’m not sure that switching to a different brand will stop Stewart’s crash happy ways.

      • HalfBaked says:

        Apparently it can reduce crashing since no one riding a Suzuki in the 450 class crashed out for the season or even missed a main event this year.

        • Dave says:

          Dungey almost failed to start a moto because his wouldn’t start last year. Put on the ride of his life after it did start though.

  16. Frank says:

    PR disaster for Yamaha? What’s new about that? Remember Chad Reed sitting in the mud at Daytona 3 years ago on his Yamaha MX bike that stalled on the last turn of the muddy Main Event? The worst possible outcome for the Yamaha team leader that year. Maybe the worst PR disaster for Yamaha this year is the top two MX Lites (East & West) riders dominating the MX Lites championships on Big Red (Honda) bikes. It’s like Yamaha angered the MX Gods. If Jorge Lorenzo manages to beat Casey Stoner in MotoGP this year, that may salvage Yamaha’s combetition image, but that’s still speculation. So far, it’s a year-to-forget for the Tuning Fork company.

  17. EZ Mark says:

    Yeah, don’t think Metcalfe was really the answer.
    Let’s see what Suzuki can do with a fast rider but no DeCoster.

  18. bp says:

    well it will be a PR disaster if bubba doesn’t blow it in nearly every race like he has for what seems like forever