All season long the hype has been leading up to Supercross showing off in the media centre of the universe… and the SX flying circus exceeded expectations. More than 8 million people are packed into the New York/New Jersey area and it seems as if all of them embraced the Monster Energy Supercross series invasion of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ (better known to the locals as the home of the New York Football Giants).
The only possible damper on SX’s first visit to New York/New Jersey in the past 23 years was the threat of rain… which had Oregon native Team RCH Racing Soaring Eagle’s Josh Hill licking his chops. Although much of the week was spent with media commitments and dealer visits, Hill was ready to race on Saturday. In fact, he had his best qualifying time of the season.
Hill’s top-five time in the afternoon qualifiers was less than a second behind the fastest two on the day, Ken Roczen and James Stewart. By taking a flyer in the qualifiers, Hill was pitted against Roczen and third fastest qualifier/defending champ Ryan Villopoto in his heat race.
Unfortunately a first lap mishap had Hill running dead last. He quickly went from last to 17th and then up to 14th on the third lap of the six-lap Heat. With nothing to lose, Hill continued his charge, moving into 12th with two laps to go and then into 10th, but to no avail as only the top four transfer to the Main. The one thing that could have rained on the SX parade was Mother Nature and she started dumping buckets before the 250 LCQ. This played to Hill’s advantage, however.
Josh headed to the Semi on a mission, lining up in the inside gate position right in front of the Fox Sports camera. Good for the TV audience as the cameras didn’t leave Hill during the race as he went into the first turn in fourth. By the end of the first lap he was up into third, battling with Phil Nicoletti for second.
While the camera’s focused on the battle for second, Hill already had his sights set on the lead as he blitzed into the lead on lap #3 of the five lap Semi and never looked back. This was his third Semi win of the season and Hill showed his exuberance with the win as he pulled off his patented wheelie through the whoops, despite the deteriorating track conditions. The rain held off for the start of the 450 Main, but the deep ruts and muddy surface played right into the hands of a couple of Oregon boys in Jersey as Ryan Villopoto just nipped Josh Hill for the holeshot. The two were joined by Eli Tomac, who eventually got by Hill on lap six of the 20-lap Main.
The top three continued to pull away from the pack as RV took his 40th career win and cemented his place in history by winning his fourth consecutive SX championship, in front of a sell-out crowd of 62,217. “This has been a long time coming,” said an elated Hill of his first podium since Anaheim of 2010. “I put in tons of work, countless hours with Doctor G and eight surgeries to get back up here. The night started off rough with a pretty big crash in the Heat race, but the team managed to get the bike straightened out and we rebounded to win the Semi and almost pull the holeshot in the Main. Once I was at the front of the pack, I thought I could run the pace… but lappers did make it pretty nerve-wracking!” With all the media emphasis on the penultimate SX round, it was nice to have RCH Racing Soaring Eagle team principal Ricky Carmichael back in the Fox Sports broadcast booth. “How about my guy! Happy for Josh and earning that podium he has been wanting,” said RC. “I’m also happy for the guys in the shop that work hard to make the bike the best it can be!” In addition to the insight offered the TV viewing audience by the “Greatest Of All Time”, the other Team Principal Carey Hart was on duty in NYC, including taping a Today Show segment with host Willie Geist at MetLife Stadium during Thursday’s media day. “Really proud of Josh’s ride,” said Hart. “Josh and the whole RCH team have worked really hard and it looked like Josh has finally found his stride. I think this will be some great momentum for the team going into the last race of the year.” Even injured team leader Broc Tickle was on hand to meet and great fans at Motorcycle Mall in Belleville. NJ on Friday night, as well as doing a full day of autograph signing in the RCH Racing/Soaring Eagle pits all day Saturday. “It was awesome to be back at the races and around the team,” said Tickle, who is still on the mend after his crash in Toronto.
“I’ve been laid out for four weeks and it was nice to be out and around the crew! It made me want to get back out there. I’m doing everything I can to heal up.” Great to have BT#20 back with the team! Speaking of the party in the pits, Carey Hart, Sierra Merchant, RC, BT#20 and Josh Hill were on hand to sign autographs. Throw in the Suzuki Holeshot experience and a chance to win an all-expenses-paid four-day/three-night get away to Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, The “Presented by Sponsor for East Rutherford SX” and it always makes the RCH Racing Soaring Eagle pit the place to be! By virtue of his third place finish at MetLife Stadium, Hill passed his injured team-mate Broc Tickle. Hill now holds eighth over Tickle who drops to ninth place in the overall point standings, going into the final round of racing in Las Vegas. Look for the 2014 season to wrap up at Sam Boyd Stadium on May 3, 2014.