Amid the news that Phil Nicoletti has parted ways with AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing, the North Carolina-based team has announced that Justin Hill will now race “select rounds” of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in the 450 class. This situation would keep two Suzuki factory bikes on the track in the 450 class, as its uncertain when Justin Bogle will line up due to the injuries he suffered in a crash at the 2018 San Diego Supercross.
Hill is in the first year of his deal with AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing, which required him to race the 250 class in 2018 with a promise to advance to the 450 class full-time in 2019. Hill raced two rounds of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series on a 450 for the team, as he finished sixth at the Tampa round but crashed and injured his feet a week later at the Atlanta round.
Through the first three rounds of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, Hill did not post a finish within the top-ten in the 250 class.
The press release from the team is posted below…
The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team is pleased to announce that Justin Hill will move up to the 450 class and race select rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Hill will race the all-new Suzuki RM-Z450 beginning next weekend at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, PA.
The Yoncalla, Ore. native is eager to take on a new challenge and test himself in the highly-competitive 450 class. Hill made headlines earlier in the year when he raced several Monster Energy Supercross 450 rounds, winning a heat race and battling with series veterans. The supremely gifted 23-year-old will use this opportunity to acclimate to the 450 class, which he will contest on a full-time basis in 2019.
"It's really cool that the Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team is giving me this chance," stated Hill. "This is something J-Bone [Jeremy Albrecht] and I talked about before the start of the Nationals. I'm stoked to see what the 450 class is all about before I make the full-time jump up next year. I had a lot of fun racing a few 450 Supercross rounds. The goal is to learn, and I'm excited for the opportunity."
Team manager Jeremy Albrecht echoed Hill's thoughts. "Justin has a tremendous amount of talent, and he has been working hard at increasing his intensity. The Suzuki RM-Z450 has proven to be an outstanding bike, as Hill showed during Supercross earlier in the year. The team isn't putting any pressure on him to win the 450 class. The established stars are going really fast right now, but I like Hill's attitude about this opportunity. We will evaluate Justin after several rounds and make the decision whether to have him contest the remaining 450 Nationals."