The Next Iteration of JS7
It’s been a rough year for James Stewart.
When James signed on with JGR almost one-year ago, the honeymoon lasted until exactly Anaheim One. A few crashes, “tire-gate” and a 6th place finish were not what was expected. With all the optimistic talk resonating from the JGR team and James himself prior to the kickoff round, it was as if all that positive spin had instantly been exposed as a cheap hologram.
As the season inched along, James had a few bright spots but more often, he was getting flicked to and fro in main events and growing tired of the routine. He did his best to stick it out but as he said in the recent podcast with Matthes, “it was a like being in a clogged up toilet, just not going anywhere”. How can you argue with that? It obviously wasn’t going anywhere and was showing no signs of getting better.
In an effort to cauterize his deteriorating legacy, simultaneously putting an end to the pain, injuries and crashing, James honorably took the steps to walk away from a boat-load of cash and three-year deal with JGR and Yamaha.
When the outdoors started with James again touting his happiness with another new team, the second of the 2012 calendar year, fans were split between optimistic and typically cynical. It made sense. Riders and teams are always fighting that mental battle with a barrage of positive reinforcement. Genuine or not, it’s the “yes-man” mentality and it either proves to be a false-front(think JGR/Stew at A1) or rings authentic(think Suzuki/Stew Hangtown/Freestone). The thing is with the mental side, it typically has a one-week lifespan. Doesn’t everything in this fickle sport? From one week to the next, a rider can go from top of the world, a dominant force; to a washed up has-been with fans claiming everywhere, they knew he couldn’t sustain from the start.
Will JS7 be able to apply a new approach?
Flash-forward to James’ newest podcast with Matthes following his Unadilla crash. As James rolled past me sitting in the back of the Asterisk Mule, I read his expression as “deflated”. Maybe that was more my projecting onto him than my inferring from his demeanor? When listening to his mood and optimism in the podcast, I was shocked. I couldn’t see how he could take away such positives from yet another race ending for him before the laps were complete.
Many who chimed in regarding the podcast just heard James making excuses, others appreciated his honesty. I fall in the middle. I hear James being optimistic and refusing to let the troubles consume that positive mindset. It’s what needs to happen if he is to fight through and make another run at that rebuilt legacy. He believes he can pinpoint the issues that lead to him being on the ground and injured again. Targeting those issues allows for a plan of attack when healed and a revised program moves forward.
The thing is, each time one of these set-back races occurs, it’s the proverbial “one-step forward, two-steps back”. Without results, that’s race results; the optimism rings holographic.
There’s no doubt that James still has the skills to be the fastest guy out there, we saw that through the first two rounds and they were decisive. James’ biggest hurdle may be the oldest cliche’ in moto. Never one to dial it down, can James really “slow down to go faster”? Apparently his team wants him to try and he sounds to be ready to embrace the concept.
But will that clarity of focus on a game plan so foreign to him remain sharp when in the heat of battle? It better because we’ve seen now that even on the Yellow bike, he can get flicked and spit-off just as fast as the Blue.