Welcome to our weekly web-exclusive column, Transmoto USA Insider Presented By Answer. Penned each week by our man on the ground, Transmoto's US Correspondent, Jason Weigandt, USA Insider presents the story-behind-the-stories of the AMA supercross and motocross scene.
Oh man, are people fired up! We're just days away from the opening round of the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, which is the US National MX series. And boy do we have the perfect rivalry brewing. With James Stewart signing back up to race the full series for the first time since he won every single moto in 2008, and doing it on the team (Suzuki) that Ryan Dungey decided he didn't want to race for anymore, and Dungey racing his new KTM but backed by a whole bunch of guys who used to work at Suzuki (like Team Manager Roger DeCoster), you've got a great mash-up of expectations and personalities.
It's all about respect in this matchup. Back when Stewart was lighting up the outdoors in 2008, Dungey was actually staying at his house and riding with him during the summer. Dungey was just a second year pro in the Lites class, and he no doubt took many a beating in a practice moto at Stewart's house. They enjoyed a great relationship that summer, with Dungey repeatedly explaining how great of a guy Stewart is. But by the end of that year, the relationship fizzled. Neither rider ever really explained why, but sources indicate it went back to the old US Open Supercross in Vegas at the end of the '08 season. The duo tangled up in the first turn of that race, and it just seemed like things cooled after that.
They've raced quite a bit over the last two seasons of supercross, but have only met one time on a motocross track - at Unadilla in 2010, when Stewart made a one-off appearance while Dungey was in the midst of dominating the series. Stewart, coming off of a long layoff with a wrist injury, and racing for a team that usually only races supercross, really wasn't prepared enough to challenge Dungey. He'll be much better prepped this time, so the first true test against each other outdoors on big bikes comes this weekend.
And don't forget the team aspect. For some reason, Dungey was never as comfortable with the new, Mike Webb-managed Suzuki team as he was when DeCoster was there. No doubt Webb and company are pumped to have acquired a new weapon to go challenge their old rider. Meanwhile, DeCoster stands on the side expected to challenge Stewart, which seems like an annual story. From Carmichael, to Reed to Dungey, it seems like DeCoster always has someone in there battling James.
But as much as the media will hype this one, expect Stewart, Dungey and their teams to come in with a clean slate, a focus on the big picture instead of personal issues, and nothing but positive things to say. Right now Stewart is adapting to a new bike and team, and readjusting to racing motocross. And Dungey is racing that new KTM 450 outdoors for the first time. Right now the two riders are just focused on getting their own programs up to speed. But at some point, they're going to have to battle each other. And that's the battle the motocross world is all hyped up about.