RJ Hampshire and Malcolm Stewart discuss A1
Victory for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire in the 2024 AMA Supercross Championship season-opener at Anaheim 1 marked an exceptional start to his season in 250SX West, as 450SX teammates Malcolm Stewart and Christian Craig each experienced their share of adversity at the opening round.
Hampshire was fast as soon as bikes were on-track at Angel Stadium, with the title contender rocketing his Husqvarna FC 250 Rockstar Edition to second position during the afternoon’s qualifying sessions.
That momentum continued for Hampshire into his Heat Race, where he pieced together a ride that very nearly earned him the win, before crossing the line in second place and setting the stage for a strong Main Event.
Launching out of the gates for a top three-start, Hampshire exercised patience in the opening laps and allowing the race to unfold, before making his way into the lead and taking control from there, eventually capturing the victory and taking hold of the series leader’s red plate heading into Round 2.
“A1 was awesome for me and it was a dream of mine to win Anaheim 1 and leave with the red plate,” commented Hampshire. “Super-happy with the day, felt awesome on my Husqvarna and am thankful for the whole team, they’ve been crushing it for me and it shows tonight. I took what the night gave me and it gave me a win, so I’m happy with where we are at, there’s a lot of good things going right now, and we’ll stay level-headed heading into San Fran next week.”
Stewart made his welcome return to competition at Anaheim 1 after spending the majority of last year on the sidelines due to injury, with the number 27 looking fit and ready to attack 2024. He opened proceedings by posting the 10th-fastest qualifying time, before charging to an impressive third position in his Heat Race.
An unfortunate fall on the opening lap of the Main Event for Stewart after being collected in a pile-up made for a difficult outing, as the Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition pilot was tasked with a come-from-behind ride as he remounted toward the rear of the field. He showed immense heart and fought until the final lap, where he recovered to an inspired 11th-place finish.
“I got the first one out the way and it’s been a whole year since I’ve raced,” noted Stewart. “We ended up 11th after going down on the first lap, got back up and then went down again. But honestly, I’m just glad to be back racing, I rode good in the Main Event, but the results weren’t there. We have something to build off now, the team’s been working really hard and we had a great off-season. The results don’t show that, but I have 16 rounds left to show what we can do. I started like this in 2022 and came back for third in the championship, so tonight was just unfortunate, but these races happen, and now we’ll start stacking up top fives and podiums to get right back up in the mix.”
Premier class teammate Craig entered this season after a grueling off-season in Florida by recording a time that landed him P14 in qualifying, converting that into a seventh-place finish in the first Heat Race of the night, which would transfer him directly into the Main Event. Unfortunately, it would not go as planned for Craig, who withdrew during the early stages and was credited with 20th position.
Words: Press Release
Image: Align Media