Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward, professional motocross riders who have dominated the sport for the last three years, will continue their rivalry at 8 tonight in the first round of the Coors Super Crown of Stadium Motocross at Anaheim Stadium.
Ward, 26, of Mission Viejo, won the race at Anaheim last year and went on to take the Supercross series title. He broke his ankle in the second series second race, at San Diego, but rode the rest of the season with the injury.
Johnson, 23, of El Cajon, crashed on the second lap of his heat, trying to maneuver a triple jump, and was knocked unconscious. He then missed two races after breaking his finger in Pontiac, Mich., but still managed to win the national 250cc championship for the second straight year.
In the three races Johnson missed, Ward won two and finished fourth to win the Supercross title.
Johnson soft-pedaled the rivalry, saying that he and Ward are friends who simply want to win.
"We're fierce competitors, and it's difficult to be buddy-buddy with other riders in this sport," Johnson said. "I wouldn't try to deliberately hurt Jeff, but nothing is going to stop me from riding as aggressive as I know how."
Ward also downplayed the rivalry.
"I don't worry about Rick Johnson, I worry about myself," he said. "If I ride well, I'll win. It's never healthy when one or two riders win everything. I think there are five or six riders capable of winning on a given night this year."