Reigning 250SX West Champion Justin Hill plans to defend the number one plate in 2018. However, he got off to a rough start to the season with a disappointing 7th place ride at the opening round in Anaheim. Here is what he had to say about the night:
Moto Now: How do you feel about your night?
Justin Hill: I feel terrible about it. I didn’t ride very good, just did a little lock-up deal. You can’t ride like a bozo when there’s that many good guys, that’s all there is to it. The guys are ripping. We got a couple extras in there now too. Like I’m normally a top-five guy opener, get out clean. This time there happened to be two or three more good guys or whatever, so that set me back and that’s all me. I just got to get everything in order and start the process of going back forward like I always do. I don’t expect the world out of myself at the first round, but I expected better than that. I’m even extra fired up, more so than anyone here, especially in the position I’m in because I have a great team. I have a great thing going on, and there’s no reason for me to be doing that. I’ve got some work to do, personally.
Is there anything you can point to specifically? Just first-race jitters?
I rode tight. Definitely nerves, but I’m not really that nervous of a guy so just honestly getting frustrated that I wasn’t making the time that I really wanted to make and I started forcing the track where it really didn’t need to be forced. I should have just rode it like I ride and I would have been better off. I wanted to really nip it in the bud the first round and start pressing, like I do in the middle of the series. I really wanted to just do that and start right away. Honestly, it’s just the wrong approach for tonight, but hindsight is 20/20 man. You never really know that kind of stuff.
It seems like every year you kind of start off slowly. Why is that?
Dude if I could not do that, I’d do it. It’s just the way it is. I don’t know. I think truthfully because it’s just a different animal. I think truly at the core I am a better racer than anything, but it definitely takes me a minute just to get into it and get my feet wet and do it. That’s why I think I’ll probably be a better 450 guy because we’ve got more races. I don’t see any type of delay in me flipping around and being up top; I feel great. There’s no reason for me not to win races and do what I was doing before: no difference. I like the bike better, I like everything better. There [are] no problems man. It’s just me with the jitters. Me riding like an idiot, gripping the bike like an orangutan. You can’t do that (laughs).
One thing I did notice you doing is after the start straight, you were doing the single, triple, triple. You were one of the only 250 guys doing that. When did you pick that up?
Honestly, I did it all day, I thought it was better. I honestly do think it was better, but it was just one thing that I was doing. If I would have done five other things that were good too, I would have been a lot better off and probably not got tight and frustrated in the first place. I got frustrated with how easy the track was just because there wasn’t a lot out there for me to go, “I can do that and I’m home-free”. A lot of the times during the year, we’re going to have tracks that I’m going to do some stuff and I’m going to go, “Nobody else is doing that.” Then I’m going to make time from that. Whether it’s technical or tricky or you have to think about it a lot, or whatever. There was just nothing here tonight like that. So I got frustrated and started gripping that bike like that, it’s all over, man.
It looked like people were kind of struggling with the quad before the triple and it was hard to hit it every lap.
It was hard to hit it every lap, for sure. You had a whole other section before to worry about. You had to do the two, three, three. You had to nail that corner just right and get up on that table just right. That was probably one of the only things that was a good separator, but I didn’t even do that. That’s what I’m saying that I wasn’t me, because I should have been the guy doing that perfectly every single lap, and doing the thing before it perfectly every single lap, and I wasn’t. So when I am that guy, I will be better.
I was kinda surprised because I didn’t see you do that quad in practice at all; did you do it?
I did it one time in practice and cased the living you-know-what out of it and was like I’ll forget about that until it becomes easy. I was fastest in practice not doing it, so I was like, whatever, I don’t care. Then obviously it became way more doable when the night show came around [because] they worked on it. You know how that goes. The track got immensely easier as the night went on. Obviously when it starts easy, you know it’s going to end easy because it just keeps getting worked and the whole thing, the transitions just get better. I knew that that was going to come around, so I really didn’t worry about it. I hate to point fingers man. I’d rather point the finger at myself and say, “Hey, I’m an idiot.” That’s just me.
Another thing was tripling into that corner right before that section. I noticed you were one of the first guys to do it in practice, but not a lot of guys were doing it during the main. Was that significantly faster?
I definitely thought that was better. That right there and then that 1-3-3 right there before that after the start, I would say that those were good lines. If I would have done that just right every time, the night would have been different for sure. Those type of lines and stuff like that were probably the only two things that were like I’m talking about—you got to think about it quite a bit. I failed at that, my thing. I just got, I wouldn’t say homework, because I know what I got to do. I just got to get out there and grind. I just got to get to grinding and come back.
It seems like after you got passed by Oldenburg, that kinda lit a fire under you. What’s to that?
For sure, it’s always easier being behind the guy than in front. He was sitting there kinda biting my ankles the whole moto and that was easier for him as well, but harder for me. So when he got by me, I was like “Oh, I’m gonna get this dude back”. You know, wham-bam not let him do it. That was close, but it just wasn’t my night. He scoped me like that last year too; he did the same thing! Bit at my heals the whole time then got me! So frustrating, but that happens; you have bad races. I’m just happy that I know the problem. I know what I got to do, so I’m not in a tail-spin over it.
It was hard to make up time too, so the start didn’t help.
The start was everything tonight with what I’ve been saying about the track being so easy. If I had been out front, [it would have been] a whole different night. My jump was incredible, but where I chose to line up probably not the best. Actually, my jump was so good that I legit surprised myself and changed my body position, wheelied, and did all the dumb stuff thinking “Oh man I’m the coolest!” after the jump, and then I was wheelie-ing. You can’t do that, that’s a rookie move if I’ve ever seen one. So I can’t do that kinda stuff.
You’ve got some fire for next week.
Oh for sure. Almost when you suck like that, you just want to punish yourself. That’s the best thing to do, is just go out there and hurt for your craft. So I’m looking forward to literally punishing myself for these next few days, working and getting better.
Is there anything you’re going to work on for next week?
I got to get in the zone. I got to do my 20s. I got to just shake off this tightness because I haven’t had it all off-season. I’ve been doing my motos, I’ve been feeling awesome, flowing, not worrying about it. Obviously, conveniently the only time of the day that this ever happened within a year is in the main. So that sucks, but it’s something that I know how to shake, so I just got to do that.
Are you worried at all about having the same thing happen at the next upcoming race in Houston?
I’m not worried about it. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had arm pump two races in a row. It’s like a crap-shoot with me; I never know if it’s going to happen. That’s why I’m actually so surprised. I got back to the rig and was sitting [there] with my arms all pop-eyed and thinking “What just happened?”. That was the weirdest. I’m not that worried about it, I’m just going to do my work. Honestly, the best way to shake it anyways is to not think about it. So forgetting is the best move for me. Getting those motos in and forgetting that it happened in the first place; just move on.
It’s also your first race with the new bike. Does that have anything to do with it? Did you learn anything about the bike?
Yeah for sure; a little bit about the bike set-up. It is like a test day, because we don’t get to [practice] on the stuff that we race on. It’s always good to just get some research and development on the bike, especially if you haven’t raced it before. But I love the bike, everything is working good. I’m gonna do some tweaking because we learned a bit, but other than that, I have nothing to complain with on the team side. It’s working good, the bike is working great, I can’t even complain about it. It’s all me bro, I need to fix it.