#46 Justin Hill (Pro Circuit Kawasaki):
Hill has had a rough go of it over the past few years. He’s always shown speed, but injuries have really plagued the guy. Even heading into 2017, Hill had a set back with a minor collarbone injury.
However, despite not having a full off-season of training, Hill has looked fast in the first two rounds. He has suffered from starts, but that’s the only bad thing about his racing so far; whenever he’s on the track, he’s riding smooth, picking good lines, and looks to have his bike dialed in. His race in San Diego was super impressive, starting outside the top 10 and making his way through the pack up to 2nd by the end of the race. Not only that, but given just one or two more laps, I think Hill would have won the race.
Another impressive note about Hill’s ride in San Diego was his ability to maintain fast lap times, even as the track wore down towards the end of the race. In fact, Hill’s lap times were about a full second faster in the latter half of the race than race winner Shane McElrath’s lap times. Hill kept pushing, when most other riders were struggling to get cleanly around the worn-out track.
Overall, Hill’s speed, late-race charge, and motivation really impressed me, making him my choice for the Most Impressive Rider in the 250 class at San Diego. 2017 is Hill’s 5th year as a pro, but yet Hill only has two SX wins; this seems strange for a rider of Hill’s caliber. 2017 has treated him well so far; let’s see if this will be a break out year for him.
Photo from Vital MX by GuyB