If the first six races set the table for the top riders vying for the SX title, the eight-week trek east of the Mississippi River will have a major impact in determining this year’s championship.
Broc Tickle (No. 20 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) has recovered nicely from a disappointing 18th-place finish in the season opener to climb into the top 10 in the SX 450 Class rider standings. Tickle’s Achilles Heel this season has been his race starts in the Main Event.
The Michigan native has leveraged the advice of 15-time champion and team owner Ricky Carmichael to help improve his starting-gate woes. The effort paid dividends last weekend at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
“I finally got a good start in the Main and just didn’t hold it together,” Tickle said. “I got flustered and got out of a rhythm. I don’t think that I was prepared to go for it right off the bat. We’re going to work on some sprint speed and keep plugging away. I feel like we got another piece of the puzzle last week in San Diego when I nailed the gate. I just need to keep putting myself in a good situation.”
Carmichael agrees the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. “Our race starts are getting better,” Carmichael said. “When Broc is running up front, he just needs to believe that he can race with those top guys. He’s fast and he’s a top rider. He’s a former Lites champion. He belongs with the lead riders and rides lap times comparable with the lead riders. Giving him the confidence is our goal. Once he believes that he can do it and has the confidence of riding up front, he’ll be in good shape.”
Teammate Josh Hill (No. 75 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) waited nearly 40 races to return to race in a SX series Main Event as he healed from racing injuries. The 23 year-old, who last raced full-time in 2010, has been on the comeback trail for the last two-and-a-half seasons. His most recent injury – a broken right hand – has sidelined him since Week 1 in Anaheim.
“Every time that I thought that I was going to be able to come back, I got hurt,” Hill said. “Anaheim last year, I broke my tibia and heel in the first turn and I broke my hand at Anaheim this season. I always felt that I could go out and race with these guys. To break my hand at the first race this year was just demoralizing. It was a tough four weeks leading up to San Diego. To make the Main was a huge sense or accomplishment.”
Hill finished 18th in the Main Event at San Diego but his win in the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) to advance to the 20-lap feature was a major step in his return to rubbing elbows with the SX 450 class elite.
“I’ve always had a great appreciation for the sport,” said Hill. “Racing is what I’ve loved doing before I can remember even really racing. I’ve been riding dirt bikes since I was three-years old. It has always been a part of my life. Being off the bike because of injuries has definitely reminded me how much I love to ride dirt bikes and be able to have this opportunity. I’ll never lose the appreciation for the sport.”
SPEED’s live coverage of Round 7 from Arlington will begin at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The Race: Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series – Round 7 of 17 The Place: Cowboy Stadium, Arlington, Texas. The Date: Saturday, Feb. 16 The Time: 8:30 p.m. (ET) TV: SPEED (Live), Saturday, Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. (ET)