Josh Hill | Moving Forward
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When the music stopped and riders landed on various teams at the end of the “Silly Season” last year, Josh Hill was one rider that found himself still standing, wondering what to do and hoping something would come his way before Anaheim I. With only weeks to spare before the drop of the gate, Hill landed some support with Yamaha and his long-time sponsor Monster Energy. And after pulling together various key sponsors, he showed up to the start of the season, pitting out of a hauler from Valli’s Chad Lanza with his buddy “Hoodie” spinning wrenches. Now, two rounds into the season, Hill is still behind the proverbial eight ball, playing catch up and doing his best to get acquainted with the new Yamaha. We caught up with him between motos at Milestone’s Supercross track.
What’s the lowdown on the ride that you have right now?
Yamaha helped out and gave me a few bikes, some parts, and some GYTR stuff—just some support. Chad Lanza from Valli is letting me use his 45-foot concept hauler to get to the races—it’s pretty much what all the satellite teams that only have one rider are running these days. Monster Energy has also helped me out, along with Fox, Spy Goggles, and my mechanic Hoodie. We’re just trying to go racing. It’s been a little bit of a struggle, because I only had two weeks on the bike before A1, and then last weekend I got sick and I’m still trying to get over it. It’s been a bit of a struggle, but we’re just plugging away at it, and hopefully in a couple rounds we’ll be in the mix where I feel like I belong. I haven’t really had the confidence or felt completely comfortable on the bike yet—just not really knowing its boundaries or how to ride it yet.
How much time do you have on the bike?
I got on the Supercross track two weeks before Anaheim I, and that was just practicing and trying to get used to the bike. I rode a lot in the off-season, but that was on a completely different bike with a completely different set up. I had some conditioning already, but getting used to the bike has been the biggest thing. With the field being as stacked as it is, and the tracks being as simple as they’ve been, everybody is kind of doing the same thing. I think at A1 I was 19th fastest, and I was only a second and half out of the lead. I got 16th at A1, and I wasn’t even close to being lapped—that’s unheard of. I think it has a little to do with the track designs and the lack of obstacles that have been on them. But I haven’t been getting the best starts either, and when you’re starting at the back of the pack, it’s almost impossible to get to the front of the pack unless you’re riding head and shoulders above everyone else.
Are you making improvements on the bike set up and getting closer to the point where you’re more comfortable on it?
I’m a believer that you can ride anything and go fast if you’re riding it correctly, so I’m trying to figure out how to ride this bike to the best of my ability and then fine-tune some things. The bike is fast—the Yamaha is unbelievably fast right out of the box. I also have Ross Maeda at enzo working with me on suspension, which has really been helping me out a lot. The amount of progress that we’ve made on the bike is pretty good, and I don’t think I could’ve done it with anyone else. We have some good things going for us, but I just need to learn how to ride the bike, and get comfortable, so I have the confidence in myself to get up there and mix it up with the top guys in the world.
You rode a Yamaha back in 2010 with the reverse engine design and you did really well on it. Have you had to get re-acquainted with the bike, because it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a Yamaha?
It’s a little bit different, and to be honest, I haven’t done anything to the chassis on the bike; it just has suspension. We haven’t really had any options available to us to change anything else on the bike, so it’s definitely a completely different bike than what I raced in 2010. With the reversed engine design and chassis, this bike is completely different than anything on the market. I think the Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki are all pretty similar in a lot of respects, but the Yamaha is just different. I think it’s a competitive motorcycle, but I just need to learn how to ride it properly. Weston Peick showed last week that it’s a competitive motorcycle; you kind of have to ride it a little differently than a normal bike. You can hang it out more on other bikes than the Yamaha. This bike you have to respect it a little more and use the right amount of energy. I just haven’t found that fine line yet.
Is your deal for the full season or just the West Coast rounds?
If I keep not making mains, then I don’t know what I’m going to do. I missed the main last weekend by a hair in the semi, and then got caught up in a first-turn pile up in the LCQ. I want to race every single race—my goal is to race every single race. Hopefully we can get the backing, and I can get the results, to continue this effort. Yeah, I believe I’ll be at every race. It may not be the exact same structure of me taking my own rig, but I’m pretty much open to whatever it takes to get my Yamaha out on the track with Monster Energy, Spy, Fox, enzo, and everybody that is helping me out. I feel like I owe it to myself to give it a try at a full season, and I owe it to everybody that has been behind me to do everything I can to be out there.
Obviously you want to make main events and do well, but what is your goal for this upcoming A2 race?
I believe I belong in the top-10—no doubt about it. I think I’m even better than that. I just have to get off the start and have a good weekend. I haven’t gotten off the line good at all, and I haven’t been confident on the bike. This week we’re doing everything we can to be the best we can for the weekend. I believe I’m one of the top riders in the world, I just have to have everything go right, get the ball rolling, and get my confidence back on the new machine.