I got a chance to speak with James Stewart and his teammate Kyle Chisholm at Yamaha’s Media Day. They sound ready for Supercross.
Last Friday, Nov 14, Yamaha hosted a media day to get their top races in front of the media to talk about the upcoming season. I spoke with a bunch of the blue bike riders, and they’re all excited about their rides for 2009.
Here are the first couple conversations I’ll share with you, when I spoke to the two riders that make up the L&M Racing, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians race team, James Stewart (fresh off his wins at both pre-season races the US Open in Vegas and the Bercy SX in Paris) and Kyle Chisholm.
PP: What’s the biggest difference with the bike after being on Kawasaki so long?
JS: For me it’s just handling, it turns really good. I think it was definitely a good change and I’m excited about it. You know, they are different bikes, but it’s not as a big a difference as you think it is.Â
PP: How about the new crew, have you got them figured out? What’s that like joining a whole new family?
JS: The whole teams laid back and the cool part is they want to win just as bad as I do. I love the team and everybody’s fun to hang out with. My mechanic Oscar’s funny, Larry, I like messing around with him, and everybody’s got a really good sense of humor but they know when it’s time to race it’s time to race and they get down for sure.
PP: What does this change do to recharge your batteries?
JS: I was definitely recharged already after getting hurt. During the outdoor season that’s probably why I went 24-0. It’s definitely a good change for me because I get to see fresh faces, the color’s different, every time I look down at the front fender it’s completely different. The team’s excited, it’s like a kid in the candy store working here. I’m excited about the change.Â
PP: There’s gotta be some downside to it.
JS: I definitely miss my old motor guy Rick Asch, one of the other guys, Derek… There were a couple people that were cool and stuff but that ended, changes had to be made, decisions made, and we’re all still friends. I think our new team is even better so I’m happy about that.
PP: Who do you think your biggest competition’s going to be for ’09?
JS: Chad Reed’s definitely going to be tough, and Ryan (Villopoto), but the biggest competition I always see is myself. I gotta make sure I do what I need to do and stay healthy.
PP: How about the outdoor series. Do you know better now how many rounds you’re going to do of that?
JS: No, not yet, but I do know we’re gonna do some for sure. It depends on how we split it up. Maybe we’ll be doing some GP stuff, but I’ll know pretty much once we get into supercross how we get rolling.
PP: People loved to watch you when you used to ride your KX125 against the 250Fs. You’re not doing a full outdoor series, you’re riding for Yamaha, which still makes a 125, has it ever crossed your mind…
Note: James broke out a big grin here. I’m not sure if it was because the question was too ridiculous or if he was thinking back of the fun he had on his 125.
JS: Yeah, I mean, I would go out there and race if you guys want me to on the two-stroke but I’m not promising anything. I’d probably barely qualify. The two-stroke, man I hate to say it, but they’re dead and they’re not coming back.
PP: What’s going to be the biggest surprise about you for 2009?
JS: Obviously we’re on the Yamahas now and, I don’t know, it’s kinda hard to say. We’ve had a great year so far, a great two races obviously, and hopefully just continue that.
I also spoke with James’ teammate Kyle Chisholm, who last year raced a 250F on the Motosport Kawasaki Xtreme Team Green. This year he’s battling in the 450 class.
PP: Tell me about getting the call to join the team, and was James Stewart already a part of it?
KC: It was pretty cool. I was at church. Actually me and my girlfriend got baptized that night. I had my phone on silent and when we got out, in the car trying to get out of the parking lot I handed my girlfriend the phone because somebody had called me. It was Larry trying to get a hold of me. We spoke the next day. Obviously he was calling to see if I was interested and obviously I said yeah. It all went from there. I came out after the nationals were over and tested a bike. They wanted to watch me ride, ride the bike on a supercross track, and they had a few other guys they were looking at. They let me know about a week later that everything was cool and everything went through.
PP: How much have you gotten to ride with James on a supercross track since you joined the team?
KC: Actually not a lot so far. The week before the US Open we rode, and obviously at the US Open. I actually hurt my knee a little bit and took a couple weeks off while we had time so I could heal up. Everything’s good now. I’ve ridden with him at home ever since were were on 80’s, we’ve known each other for a long time. Since he’s had a track at his house we’ve been riding together. We’ll be training and everything together, getting ready for Anaheim.
PP: You’ve had your first race on the team. What is or what do you foresee to be the downside of having such a high profile teammate?
KC: I don’t think there really is any, you know? The only thing I could think you could assume is maybe having him on the team he would more attention or better stuff. But the team is awesome, they’re totally fair. We both get the same opportunities, the same everything. Just because he’s the best rider in the world, they don’t treat me any different. I don’t see any negative thing there could be. It obviously puts me in the spotlight a little more, it helps my career, so nothing, nothing bad.
PP: So that spotlight is good pressure?
KC: I put more pressure on myself than anybody. The team is really great about not putting too much pressure on us. Larry’s been in our shoes, and all the guys on the team, the mechanics, and everybody with the team has a lot of experience so they know we put enough pressure on ourselves. Everything’s really good.
PP: What’s going to surprise us about you in 2009?
KC: I just want to be up there. This is my first year racing the 450 class and only my third year racing as a pro, so I just want to be up there, getting experience, racing with the top guys, so we’ll see what happens. P
P: Do you have a position in mind as your goal for the year?
KC: You know, we talked a little bit, and don’t want to put an exact number or something like that. I just want to go out and do my best and work hard for that. Wherever I finish, as long as I know I did my best, that’s all I can hope for. Long term, we kinda looked at it, if I’m top ten at the end of the season, that’d be a successful season, being as there are a lot of fast guys. I just want to get up there and race with them.
Note – and like seasoned pro, when I asked Kyle if there was anything I was forgetting he added – KC: I just want to thank obviously the team that game me the opportunity and all my sponsors. I have some new ones now. Fly, 661, Red Bull, obviously L&M and San Manuel Yamaha, JSE, still working on some other sponsorships, everything’s happening late this year but I’m just glad to have the opportunity.