For Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill, 2013 was his first full year as a professional racer, but it will likely go down as one of the toughest of his blossoming racing career. After some mistakes, a couple injuries, and many promising rides, Hill is looking towards 2014 with a rejuvenated outlook as he takes what he learned in 2013 into the new season.
With Anaheim I only a few days away, there is no word on what coast he will be riding, as team owner Mitch Payton likes to keep that under wraps until race day, but Hill says he is ready no matter what, “I have never felt so good on a motorcycle and so in tune with everything.”
Heading in your second full season, what are you taking away from your first year and applying to 2014?
I learned everything last year. I came in thinking I knew a lot and I was wrong. It was a big learning season for me, because I learned where mistakes were in my program, and what I need to do as a person to make sure I know I have my work put in and that I have done everything that I can do. Right now, I’ll honestly tell you that I have never felt so good on a motorcycle and so in tune with everything. I feel like I could do no wrong out there. It’s a feeling that I want all the time. I have a better idea of how I can make it happen every week and I feel very ready.
Since last year was a learning year for you, is there more pressure on you for 2014?
I actually think that there is less pressure on me now. If I would have done better during my first year, I feel like I wouldn’t have been as fired up for 2014. I have never felt so motivated to do better. I feel like I am an underdog and I have the potential to win. If I can go out there and do that, people will feel like I did my homework and didn’t just go out there last year and go through the motions. I want to go out there and win. I said I wanted to win last year, but—I’m going to say this 20,000 times before we race—when I lined up on the gate I did not believe that I could win. That obviously showed, and I set myself up for failure. Right now, I’m a whole new man and I’m excited.
It has been said that motocross is as much mental as it is physical, but do you think that’s true?
Yeah, there are a lot of different ratios that people come up with. I don’t know the exact number, but I feel that it’s very personalized to who you are as a person and rider. I thought I was very mentally strong—nothing really bothered me—but I just wasn’t very mentally strong about myself and that I could go out there and do well. Now that I’m out there and I feel very confident against my teammates, whom are very strong right now, that just gives me confidence, knowing that all of them have won before. I’m not off the pace, and if anything, I’m going really fast. The whole mental game is important and I just need to build my confidence. Being healthy is a big thing, because before both the Supercross and outdoor seasons last year, I struggled with wrist injuries and it just took the wind out of my sails. I wasn’t confident on the bike, and I didn’t go out there hungry to kick ass. I went out there trying to be safe and ride it out. In retrospect, though, maybe that was smart, because I was injured and not riding like myself. But now, it’s time. That’s not pressure, that’s just me knowing that I’m good to go now.
How was Mitch Payton throughout your struggles?
He was nothing but help. He just wants me to succeed and obviously he wants to do whatever he can do to help me win for him. He was supportive last year and wants to do whatever he can to help me do better. I felt bad, because he was doing all of these things for me, and I couldn’t deliver. But now that I’m feeling really good, I’m excited and I want to win.
History has shown that Mitch wants all his riders to be ready for Anaheim I, but do you have a coast you would like to ride?
I’m really hoping for West. I’d like to go head-to-head against the best guys and have as many guys out there as possible. If I can win some races, and say that I beat all of those guys, it would be a lot better than people saying that the East Coast was weak. I feel like that’s what people would’ve said last year, but I sucked. I’m totally pumped on going heads up with everyone. The West Coast is kind of the center of attention, so to me I’m ready for that.