Malcolm Stewart interview

Malcolm Stewart interview

The champion privateer

Current US 250 champ Malcolm Stewart faces life as a privateer as he moves up to 450s

By Adam Duckworth

If you win an AMA Supercross or National championship and are still at the top of your game, you’d think there would be factory teams lining up to beat a path to your door. But in 2017, thing are very different. Former 250 champ Jake Weimer is without a ride, as is Dean Wilson who is having to fund his own Yamahas to start the Supercross season as a privateer.

But two champions also on the list are a big surprise – the Stewart brothers of James and Malcolm. James has had a tough few years with a drugs ban and injuries, and when his Yoshimura Suzuki team was folded into the RCH squad, he was left out in the cold.

And his younger brother Malcolm, fresh from wining the 250 East Coast series on a Geico Honda, is also without a supported ride as he moves up to the 450 Supercross series for 2017.

Both men set the internet alight when they rode brand new Yamahas on a charity ride day recently, but the rumours of them going blue together were soon quoshed. And Malcolm has continued to race on a 2016-model Geico Honda CRF450 in the winter Supercross events. We caught up with him to find out what’s going on with a ride and lots more…

Malcolm gets full-on aggressive in the corners at Lille

MotoHead: So we’ve got to ask the question that everyone wants to know… Where do you get your celebration dance moves from?
Stewart: Definitley from my dad! Evcer since I was a little kid I was moving, for sure!

MotoHead: OK, but seriously, what’s happening with a ride for 2017?
Stewart: As of right now, I hear a bunch or rumours but I really don’t have anything sorted. I’m searching and trying to find a ride but it’s a bit late in the game to find a new deal and get on a new team. It seems like unfortunately I’m going to have to sit back and wait and see if another rider gets hurt. It’s the way how this motorcycle sport works - we all know it’s a dangerous sport.

In the meantime I’ll show up as a privateer and figure out what bike I’m going to ride and try to get some help before Anaheim 1. I’m going to just show up in a Sprinter van and go racing. The way it is, if a factory rider gets hurt then hopefully I’ll have made a good name for myself and get back out there. I’ve seen plenty of rides gone that way. It’s unfortunate that I’m the guy in that situation, especially after wining a championship in 2016. It’s been talked about so much since the summer that I’ve got to the point that I can’t even believe I won a championship any more!

Sharing a joke with Justin Barcia, Stewart is a fun and likeable rider

Motohead: How about forming your own team with James?
Stewart: It would be a dream team all right but if you don’t have factory support, it makes it hard. To do this on your own, correctly without any support, you’re looking at $300,000, maybe more, to be on a good level for one rider. Nobody wants to turn up on a bike with stock ignition, pipes and suspension. That stuff is expensive, then there’s the travelling on top. How am I going to get my bikes around? I’ll need bikes at the races and bikes back home in Florida to ride so it’s double the price and it all adds up.

The fans don’t understand that, some just see what they want to see. If fans had to spend their own money then they’d understand. I’m going to do what I can to show up. I’m not a quitter by any means. I’m still on the way up and not going to let this situation put me down as I’m in a tough spot right now.

He borrowed a CRF450 and boshed on some Seven graphics to race this winter

MotoHead: Is it tough to keep motivated to ride without a deal on the horizon?
Stewart: The riding part is fine. I’m thankful Geico haven’t asked for their bikes back. If they pull my bikes back I’ll have to go out and buy some bikes! They have been doing a great job of giving me what I need, as if I was on the team. They’re doing it as a favour as I won a championship for them and I’m grateful for that. They could have just cut me.

Motohead: Are you planning to do Supercross and outdoor in 2017?
Stewart: Yes, I want to do SX and outdoor next year, but it’s a matter of figuring it out. First things first – I’ve got to worry about getting on the start at Anaheim 1! When I get there I’ll be able to start figuring out the rest of the season like the 24 motos of the outdoors! I have 17 rounds of Supercross first.

He has the speed and skill, but Mookie has escaped the factory rider draft

MotoHead: Who’s faster now, you or James?
Stewart: He still has it man. Sometimes he can throw it down and make me look stupid – and I’m not talking about a couple of seconds. I’ve seen him make me look so bad – I was five seconds slower than him! I was winning the 250 championship and he throws a lap time five seconds faster and I say great! What a way to bring your brother some confidence!

It’s cool to ride with him and he can still get it done. He helped me win the championship this year. He’ll always be my brother and it doesn’t matter if I win or lose, I’ll always have family to go to.

I got it done against my competition in 2016, but now I’m ready to move up top the big boy class and I’m excited about it. Last time I rode 450s was in 2014 outdoors and it was good. I want to keep moving forward.

Yes, he can style it! He's had a good teacher, after all

MotoHead: And how is now that James has a son?
Stewart: He’s spoiled already as it is and I spoil him more! Every time I see him I get so happy to hang out and play with him. Being an uncle, I feel like I’m old now. And when he gets four or five, I’ll get him a fishing pole and I’m going to teach him how to fish. A motorcycle is a grandpa gift – I’m going to be the fishing guy! Grandma spoils him the most. She ain’t worried about me no more. It was all cool but once that baby popped out, she don’t call me any more!

Let's hope Malcolm Stewart is on a factory bike soon