James Stewart took victory in California on Saturday night as Anaheim's Angel Stadium played host to the opening round of the 2010 AMA Supercross championship.

With reigning title holder Stewart and Australian Chad Reed the only active former champions in the series, the pre-race story was all about the continuation of their rivalry, but a couple of promising youngsters in the form of Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey were all primed to make an impact.

Right from the start of the main event, Dungey fired out ahead of Villopoto and Stewart into the first corner, but Stewart carried more speed out and went straight past Villopoto into second through the whoops and into turn two.

Further back, however, Reed was in serious trouble - making his American debut for his new Monster Energy Kawasaki team, Reed found Suzuki-mounted youngster Austin Stroupe charging across in front of him away from the start, Stroupe's footpeg slamming into Reed's front wheel and causing terminal damage to the spokes. A furious Reed could only coast back to the pits and into retirement, his only consolation being that Stewart DNF'd the same, opening fixture last year and came back to win the title.

Up front, Stewart was right with Dungey, Villopoto holding a watching brief in third, and it looked like a three-way battle was in the offing, but the leading duo began to slowly edge away from Villopoto and it looked like Stewart was just biding his time before making a move.

Villopoto seemed to be struggling as a duo of Honda riders lined up behind him, Andrew Short ahead of veteran Kevin Windham, whilst up front, Dungey seemed to be anything but struggling, Stewart slowly but surely dropping away from his tail. It seemed like there might be a major upset on the cards, with Stewart riding within himself, seemingly unable to lift the pace to close Dungey down, but as the raced reached three-quarter distance, Stewart suddenly seemed to come alive, finding outrageous amounts of pace and gobbling up Dungey's five second lead in barely a couple of laps.

Stewart fired his L&M Racing Yamaha inside a visibly-tense Dungey and got great drive out, powering through into the lead and starting to pull away, and it seemed the battle might be won with three laps left - but no-one had told Dungey that the race was supposed to be over.

The Makita-Suzuki-mounted 20-year-old regrouped and charged back hard onto the tail of a Stewart who clearly thought he'd got the win in the bag - with the crowd on it's feet for a grandstand finish, Stewart was forced into taking defensive lines to protect himself, but with half a lap to go, Dungey pushed just too far as he tried to turn inside Stewart, his bike spinning up sliding wide.

Dungey stayed on to cross the line second, but the 3.5 second gap belied just how hard he'd pushed Stewart to the finish - the leading pair crossed the line almost thirty seconds ahead of the battle for third, which popularly went to Windham in the Geico Powersports Honda, ahead of Short and a disappointing Villopoto, on the comeback trail from a 2009 season hit by injury.

With the Lites class for the smaller 250 machines split into two regions, Anaheim saw round one of the West Coast series. Right from the start it was a pair of Pro Circuit Kawasakis at the front of the field, Jake Weimer leading Josh Hanson with the Yamaha-mounted Gautier Paulin in a close third. Frenchman Paulin, in the States as a warm-up to his World Championship motocross campaign, had immediate company in the form of Ryan Morais and Trey Canard while the Kawasakis began to edge away up front, and Morais was not shy about making his presence felt, bumping the former BMX world champion at every opportunity.

At the end of lap one, Hanson made a small mistake, dropping his bike in a turn and losing a handful of spots before picking it up and rejoining sixth. With Weimer thus handed a small gap on a plate, Morais made his way past Paulin for second as Canard began to apply the pressure for third - former East Coast champion Canard pulled out an outrageous pass, clearing a big triple jump just before a hairpin bend, running inside Paulin with some pace and forcing the Frenchman up and over the top of the berm.

Paulin remounted twelfth but seemed to have lost a little heart after his rough treatment, dropping slowly down through the field - with no vested interest in this championship, and a World Championship to contest, there was no point for him to bust a gut charging back through the field.

With Weimer comfortable up front, Canard began to close down Morais in the battle for second, and Hanson mounted a recovery charge, closing up on Blake Wharton in fourth but with Wil Hahn right on his back tyre - Hanson fell again on lap six, rejoining eighth as the American meat in an English sandwich, with Tommy Searle ahead of him in seventh and Max Anstie behind him in ninth.

Canard would use the same tactics on Morais as he did on Paulin, utilising his massive triple-jump leap into the bowl turn to carry much more speed into the corner - again contact was made, but Morais made it through the corner albeit a place down. As the clock ticked down, the places were set, as no-one seemed to have any pace to make any more progress, so Jake Weimer ran out the winner at Anaheim 1 for the second year in succession ahead of Canard and Morais.

Great news for the British contingent as Searle and Anstie hung on to their top ten finishes, but Anstie's was maybe the more impressive ride - both making their supercross debuts, former world number two Searle ran around sixth and seventh all race long, whilst sixteen-year-old Anstie, son of Grand Prix racer Mervyn, came from sixteenth at the end of lap one through to ninth.

The series reconvenes next Saturday for round two at Phoenix, where Reed will be absolutely desperate to get his title challenge back on track.

AMA Supercross Class Results: Anaheim 1
1. James Stewart Yamaha
2. Ryan Dungey Suzuki
3. Kevin Windham Honda
4. Andrew Short Honda
5. Ryan Villopoto Kawasaki
6. Josh Hill Yamaha
7. Ivan Tedesco Yamaha
8. Justin Brayton Yamaha
9. Davi Millsaps Honda
10. Grant Langston Yamaha

Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites Class Results: Anaheim 1
1. Jake Weimer Kawasaki
2. Trey Canard Honda
3. Ryan Morais Suzuki
4. Blake Wharton Honda
5. Wil Hahn Honda
6. Broc Tickle Yamaha
7. Tommy Searle KTM
8. Josh Hansen Kawasaki
9. Max Anstie Yamaha
10. Jeff Alessi Yamaha


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