After a disappointing Supercross season, James Stewart has split with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and signed on with Yoshimura Suzuki. The switch in teams comes less than seven months after Stewart signed a multiyear deal with JGR that would’ve seen him transition into NASCAR in a couple of years.
Despite the abrupt split, both Stewart and JGR have assured the public that they’ve parted ways amicably and may very well work together in the near future.
Supercross Round 11 Injury
Stewart’s AMA Supercross season with JGR was cut short when a crash in Round 11 at Indianapolis resulted in a broken hand. Although he made a brief appearance in Round 13 at Houston, he crashed early in the race and sat out the remainder of the season. Nevertheless, his strong performance early in the season helped him to earn seventh in the overall rankings.
Farewell To Joe Gibbs Racing
Stewart recently posted a message on his website that addresses this past season’s outcome and his decision to move on from JGR: "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. I do and have always appreciated the time and effort put in by everyone at JGR and at Yamaha. With Yamaha we’ve shared some really great times and those are times that I will never forget.”
With his hand on the mend and a fresh deal with Yoshimura Suzuki, Stewart is now preparing for the 2012 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, which kicks off on May 19 in Sacramento, Calif. He’ll now be riding the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450, a bike he tested before the Supercross season and which nearly persuaded him to sign with Yoshimura instead of JGR.
Not only does Stewart feel comfortable on this bike, but he seems to be very optimistic about working with the Suzuki team. Yoshimura Suzuki recently issued a press release in which Stewart says, "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."
As Stewart joins the Yoshimura Suzuki team, it will be the fourth team he has signed with in five years. If everything goes well, we might just see Stewart ride out the rest of his motocross career with Suzuki. Back when Stewart signed with JGR, he stated that his intention was to ride for three more seasons in an attempt to break Jeremy McGrath’s record of 72 Supercross Wins before switching to NASCAR.
After this last season, that goal might take a little longer to achieve than originally anticipated, but if Stewart has finally found a team he can really gel with, his last few years could be his strongest yet.