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The first-ever Red Bull Straight Rhythm competition is in the record books. The large crowd in attendance was witness to some heated head-to-head racing that forced riders to try everything they could to cut their times down. In the end, it was James Stewart who took the Open Class victory while Marvin Musquin held strong in the 250 Class for the top spot.
In round one for the Open Class, the race to watch was between Josh Hansen and Travis Pastrana. The two were very close in qualifying times, and all eyes were on Travis and his 500cc RM-Zilla. The pair did not disappoint; Hansen took their first race, and Travis threw a backflip over the finish line after winning the second, forcing a sudden-death third race.
Hanny took would take the win, securing a spot in the quarters against JS7. Still, Travis was ecstatic about the race: “I don’t have all the timing, endurance or speed I used to have,” he said, “but for me to go out there and be fairly competitive, it was so much fun. It was a great experience for me to get back on the bike, keep it a two-stroke and ride a 500cc for the first time in my life. It was just awesome.”
Apart from the Pastrana backflip in the midst of his battle with Hansen, few surprises came through the round of 16. Another good battle came in the race of the Kyles, where Partridge just edged Chisholm in the run-off third race. The results played out like so (winners in bold):
James Stewart vs. Scott Champion
Travis Pastrana vs. Josh Hansen
Josh Hill vs. Vince Friese
Malcolm Stewart vs. Brett Metcalfe
Kyle Partridge vs. Kyle Chisholm
Justin Brayton vs. Ryan Morais
Shane McElrath vs. Jake Canada
Dean Wilson vs. Grant Langston
The 250 class took the track with Marvin Musquin easily advancing against part-time freestyle rider Jarryd McNeil. No real surprises came out of the 250 class in the round of 16. The races were ruled by the Red Bull KTM, TLD KTM, and GEICO Honda teams, save for the privateer Nico Izzi and the newly-converted Arenacross racer Chris Blose, who each moved on after winning both races in round one.
Marvin Musquin vs. Jarryd McNeil
Darryn Durham vs. Zack Freeberg
Jordon Smith vs. Cody Gilmore
Justin Bogle vs. Ryan Surratt
Chris Blose vs. Austin Politelli
Jessy Nelson vs. Keith Tucker
Nico Izzi vs. Tevin Tapia
Justin Hill vs. Mike Leib
Racing tightened up tremendously in the quarterfinals. James Stewart made quick work of Hansen, who did manage to keep the racing fairly close against the #1 qualifier. The fans started to get an extra tickle of excitement when young Malcolm Stewart toppled Josh Hill, meaning an all-Stewart semifinal was imminent. KTM riders Justin Brayton and Dean Wilson would make up semifinal two, clearly a level above respective competitors Partridge and McElrath.
James Stewart vs. Josh Hansen
Josh Hill vs. Malcolm Stewart
Kyle Partridge vs. Justin Brayton
Shane McElrath vs. Dean Wilson
In the quarters for the 250 class, Musquin stayed in fine form to take down the new TLD KTM rider Darryn Durham in two races. Honda teammates Smith and Bogle treated fans to three incredible battles, with Bogle just barely edging the rookie. Jordon showed surprising maturity on the supercross-style track, considering he’s never raced it as a professional. KTM riders Jessy Nelson and Justin Hill each took solid wins to get in to the other semifinal.
Marvin Musquin vs. Darryn Durham
Jordon Smith vs. Justin Bogle
Chris Blose vs. Jessy Nelson
Nico Izzi vs. Justin Hill
The Open Class semifinals opened up with the most anticipated battle of the day: brothers James and Malcolm Stewart. The younger Malcolm was incredibly fast all day, setting the fastest time of the day so far in his final quarterfinal moto leading up to his battle with James. After losing the first race, Malcolm looked to have James covered in the second round until a costly error scrubbing one of the speed checks knocked him out of rhythm and gave James the advantage he needed to take the win.
The other semifinal featured both of the new KTM riders, Dean Wilson and Justin Brayton. Justin’s incredible whoop speed came through in the final two motos, after he forced a run-off in the second race and then managed to come from behind and pass Dean for a second time in the whoops in race three to secure a spot in the final against James.
James Stewart vs. Malcolm Stewart
Justin Brayton vs. Dean Wilson
Marvin Musquin hit semifinal one in the 250 class against the 2014 250 East Supercross Champion, Justin Bogle. Again, Marvin was incredibly on-point, winning both races despite the hard charges of Bogle. Marvin’s new teammate, Justin Hill, took down Jessy Nelson in the second semifinal to make the 250 final a Red Bull KTM party.
Marvin Musquin vs. Justin Bogle
Jessy Nelson vs. Justin Hill
Despite Brayton’s fine form all day, especially in the whoops, there was no stopping James on this track. He had not lost a race during the entire event, and would not be defeated by Brayton in either of the two races in the final. James took the checkers to become the first Open Class champion ever at Red Bull Straight Rhythm.
James had this to say about the win: “It was a lot harder than I thought it’d be this year. On every run today, the guys rode faster and faster. There were places where I didn’t think I could make up time, but somehow, I made it up where I needed to. I can’t wait to watch it on TV.”
James Stewart vs. Justin Brayton
The teammates met for the first time since practice in the 250 class final. Hill had bested Marvin in their practice races on a few occasions, but had nothing for the Frenchman in the final. The pair battled through both races, but at the end of each, it was the #25 of Musquin throwing style on the finish line. Marvin celebrated with a classic heelclicker and his signature ecstatic fist pump.
Marvin Musquin vs. Justin Hill
For more photo and video content, and to watch a VOD replay of the live webcast, head over to the official Red Bull Straight Rhythm site.