James Stewart, Marvin Musquin win first-ever Red Bull Straight Rhythm

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In an event that seemed tailor-made for the two-time 450 Class Supercross champion, James Stewart delivered a flawless performance to win the inaugural Red Bull Straight Rhythm.

The event pitted 32 riders (16 in the Open Class, 16 in the 250 Class) head-to-head down a half-mile straightaway of rhythm sections, jumps, whoops and sand sections in a four-round, best-of-three bracket format.

Stewart made it through all four rounds of head-to-head competition, sweeping each matchup along the way.

After disposing of Scott Champion in the opening round and Josh Hansen in the quarterfinals, Stewart faced a much tougher test in the semifinals, where he was matched up with his own brother, Malcolm Stewart. Headed into the matchup, it was Malcolm who held the fastest lap of the day from any rider, but James stepped things up and needed only two runs to get the better of his sibling and advance into the final round.

The other Open Class semifinal featured a heated contest between Dean Wilson and Justin Brayton, both of whom just switched teams this week and have only been on their new bikes for a few days. Red Bull KTM’s Wilson beat BTO Sports KTM’s Brayton in the first run, but Brayton made a hard charge through the final whoops section on his second run to defeat Wilson in a near-photo finish and force a rubber match.

With a win in his third run vs. Wilson, Brayton completed the come-from-behind victory to earn a trip to the final round. He was no match for Stewart though, as the Yoshimura Suzuki rider only needed two runs to eliminate Brayton and lay claim to the first-ever Red Bull Straight Rhythm win in the Open Class.

“I’m more tired now than I am after I do 20 laps [at a supercross race],” Stewart admitted after the event. “I think it’s a great test for us as racers, and for the fans, it’s simple – it’s head to head racing. Win or go home, baby.”

Throughout the day, the make-or-break feature of the track proved to be the whoops section right before the finish line, with the right lane seemingly offering a slight edge. The more powerful bikes also proved to have a distinct advantage in that section.

The most powerful bike in the field may have been the “RM-Zilla” of Travis Pastrana, a 500cc two-stroke Suzuki whose power was clearly on display in the whoops section. In his much-anticipated return to motocross racing today, Pastrana didn’t make it out of the first round though after being eliminated by Josh Hansen, but he clearly had fun at the event. Pastrana beat Hansen in the second of their three runs and then landed a backflip over the final jump in celebration, much to the delight of all the fans in attendance.

In the 250 Class, the inaugural event win went to Marvin Musquin, who like James Stewart, was dominant throughout the day. He defeated his brand-new Red Bull KTM teammate Justin Hill in the final round of competition to secure the victory.

“Everything went perfect,” Musquin said. “Each run, everyone was getting better and faster, so I just had to be really consistent and hit the whoops perfect and the rhythms perfect.”

Open Class Top Four
1. James Stewart
2. Justin Brayton
3. Malcolm Stewart
4. Dean Wilson

250 Class Top Four
1. Marvin Musquin
2. Justin Hill
3. Jessy Nelson
4. Justin Bogle

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”