A season best 7th at St. Louis for Josh Hill and the great news that Broc Tickle was out of the hospital and on the mend at home had the entire RCH Racing Soaring Eagle Team flying high and ready to hit Houston for round 14 of the Monster Energy Supercross series. Hill was on fire all day, setting a blistering top five qualifying time and then winning his Heat race to transfer straight to the Main… and that was just the beginning!
Photo Credit:RCH Team
As they say, everything is bigger in Texas, especially the whoop sections. “I wish I was racing tonight,” said team principal Ricky Carmichael. “Those are my style of whoops. Remember 2002 Houston? Like riding on tough blocks!” Because the whoops were so challenging, riders had to find another way to win. The secret to success on the tough Texas track was going big… literally! Hitting the big quad jump going into the final turn was Josh Hill’s secret line (only he and the days fastest qualifier Ryan Villopoto jumped that quad). The quad not only helped Hill qualify less than fraction of a second behind defending champ Villopoto, but also worked in his Heat race.
Starts have been an Achilles’ heel for Hill this season — he has the speed to race with the best, but has found himself having to fight his way through the entire pack more often than not. However a phenomenal top 5 qualifying time that was just .016 of a second off Villopoto’s top time, gave Josh a great gate pick in Heat race #2. He lined up next defending champ RV and red hot rookie Ken Roczen. Andrew Short took the surprise holeshot, but Hill was right behind him third off the start. By the end of the first lap, Josh got by Short, even without being able to use his hot line through the quad.
Photo Credit: Simon Cudby
Meanwhile Villopoto used the hot line to catch up to Hill and managed to get by, briefly. An uncharacteristic mistake by the current points leader had RV crashing out and Hill taking a commanding Heat race win and a transfer spot straight to the Main event. Along the way, he captured plenty of TV time for the RCH Soaring Eagle team this week. Josh was the focal point for leading the race and then the podium interview for winning… his first Heat race win since the Indianapolis SX back in 2013. Fox Sport trackside reporter Jenny Taft also interviewed Josh Hill right after Heat Race #1 where he fessed up that the quad jump was the key. “I could hit that all night!” he told Taft on national TV. “I waited until the end of qualifying to do it.”
Photo Credit: Simon Cudby
It isn’t just a secret line that has Hill doing well, though.
“I’m finally feeling good, I came into the season with a back problem and then broke my collarbone at the Oakland Supercross,” said Josh from the podium after leading a Suzuki sweep of the Heat races (an ailing James Stewart held it together to win the first Heat). With only a week off after getting the collarbone plated, Hill had been fighting through the pain all season long. However a Heat race win and three consecutive Top 10 Main event finishes in a row, had Josh feeling no pain at Reliant Stadium in Houston… at least until the first turn of the Main event.
Photo Credit: Simon Cudby
Josh lined up next to Ryan Dungey for the start of the 450 Main putting the KTM rider in a Suzuki sandwich with James Stewart. Unfortunately in the drag race to the first turn Stewart’s Suzuki clipped Josh, grounding the Soaring Eagle rider instantly! Although there was some additional carnage in the second turn, Hill was dead last. By lap 10 of the 20 lap Main, Hill had battled his way up to 15th. Despite being a lap down from leader Villopoto, Josh continued to charge, up to 13th with 8 laps to go, and then into 12th with two laps to go, where he eventually finished.
“The heat race went well,” said a disappointed Hill. “I felt really confident in practice… I was jumping some section that not many people were doing and just felt great. It is unfortunate to have a fall in the first turn! I really wanted to get the holeshot, but ended up running out of real estate — me and James kind of bumped and I hit the deck.”
Unfortunately Heat race wins don’t count in the points standings, but his gritty 12th place finish in Houston has Hill up into 10th overall in the points standings with three races left. While he is healing up and unable to race, Broc Tickle still holds onto 8th place in the standings. This is a true testament to the talent of the RCH Soaring Eagle teammates since they are both in the top ten in points despite missing several races (5 total for Tickle and 3 for Hill).
As always, the team sponsors were at the epicenter of the action in the pits as the Suzuki Holeshot experience proves to be popular with the fans. Also attracting a crowd is the sign up for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid four-day/three-night get away to Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort. A new addition to the RCH Racing Soaring Eagle vibe is the new RCH Racing Fanwear collection from team riding gear sponsor Fox Racing. Show your support for both Broc Tickle and Josh Hill by flying the Soaring Eagle colors: http://bit.ly/RCHxFox
So how does a Soaring Eagle fare in Seahawk territory? Yoncalla, Oregon, native Josh Hill is looking forward to a homecoming as the RCH Racing Soaring Eagle team flies to Seattle for the April 12th race at CenturyLink Field. “It’s on to next weekend… again,” he says. “I really think I can get up on the podium, so that’s what I’m going to keep working toward.”
Photo Credit: RCH Team
About RCH Racing Soaring Eagle:
RCH Racing is in its second season of the partnership between Ricky Carmichael and Carey Hart to campaign the Feld Motor Sports® 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship season. Ricky Carmichael merged his Suzuki relationship and technical development with the established five year marketing giant of Hart & Huntington Racing in 2013. The RCH Racing Soaring Eagle Team continues its partnerships with Suzuki, Fox, Dodge, Sycuan Casino, Yoshimura and Bel-Ray. Stay up to date on all RCH Racing Soaring Eagle news, follow us on Instagram and Twitter @RCHRacing and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hartandhuntington.
For additional information contact Justyn Amstutz at Justyn@NFC-Mgmt.com