The moment you saw the number 7 Suzuki of James Stewart enter your widescreen TV-frame, you KNEW he would play a role in the outcome of the battle which had begun to heat up between Ryan Dungey and Marvin Musquin.
I didn’t expect James to make a boneheaded move or intentionally affect the result but it’s just the way things work out in the Supercross world when the #7 is in the mix. It’s not fair or unfair, right or wrong; it just IS.
It’s just the way enigma’s work. To save you the time of googling the actual definition of an enigma: Synonyms of “enigma”:
mystery, puzzle, riddle, conundrum, paradox, problem, quandary
. The way that James finds himself a topic of debate even when being lapped in 14th place is indeed, all of these.
You can’t take anything away from Marvin Musquin, he put in 19 laps of error-free riding and thanks to his friend Ryan Dungey’s “big picture” view of a series, was about to secure his first win. Marvin’s pace and proficiency were high enough that he didn’t need to ride the wide bike we’ve seen in the past. Dungey was feeling no heat from behind so he felt no urgency to pressure Marvin. Ryan settled into second and scoped Marvin’s lines and tendencies to formulate the best place to make a clean move as the laps ticked off.
On the last lap, Marvin showed no signs of faltering so Dungey turned up the pace and reeled Marvin in to make an effort at a last lap, clean pass. If that window of opportunity didn’t present itself, Ryan was clearly fine with finishing second and celebrating his friends first win.
It just so happened that as Dungey moved in on Marvin’s rear tire, they happened to be lapping James Stewart who was shockingly(and commendably), still completing laps in the 14th position. James didn’t physically impede the progress of the leaders but what he did do by NOT impeding them, was confuse and distract Marvin. I’d be willing to bet that somewhere in the neighborhood of 100% of the eyeballs reading this right now have taken a gander at the AMA rulebook’s definition of the “blue-flag” since the checkered flag waved in Atlanta.
For comprehensiveness’ sake, I’ll include that here too:
- a. Solid Blue Flag :
- 1. Indicates you are about to be overtaken by faster riders.
- 2. When conditions allow, move out of the fast line.
- 3. Hold your line (don’t ride erratically) and do not impede the faster riders progress.
- 4. Riders disregarding the blue flag may be black-flagged at the discretion of Race Director.
It needs to be noted that if you watch the flaggers prior to the finish line, their blue flags were stationary but absolutely should have been waving. Marvin and Ryan had caught James and put the #7 in a position to be blue flagged for at least half of the track prior to cresting the finish line where the blue flag actually began waving at James Stewart.
So James was blue flagged on the finish line as well as entering the whoops after the finish line before the corner. James was not riding erratically and he did in fact hold his line. What he did not do was move out of the fast line and yup, that is a failure to comply folks. While I believe this last lap shortcoming lies more in the hands of a mentally flustered Marvin Musquin, James did indeed play a role.
It’s a small miracle that Ryan Dungey, who was mentally unaffected by James’ actions, didn’t land on Marvin. It was sooooo damn close and would have been unimaginably tragic.
You better believe there will be a stern reminding of the meaning of the blue flag at riders meeting next week and perhaps the only thing that will really strike a chord in the heads of riders not heeding the blue flag, is for them to get a little more liberal with the waving of that other flag…
The Black Flag.