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Monday Conversation: Josh Hill

Even with a Lites podium in 2007 in his rookie supercross season, Yamaha’s Josh Hill looked more like a flop than a success. Then, as the series turned outdoors, it seemed like Hill just couldn’t break through – that is, until he switched to a YZ450F three races from the end of the series. From that point on, Hill looked like he had found his calling, and his success last year, coupled with his performance at the Yamaha test track in the off-season, led to the decision to have the 18-year-old have a go at it for a full season of 450cc racing indoors. His results have been somewhat inconsistent, but 11 races into the season, he finally had his breakthrough ride, winning the Minneapolis Supercross.

Racer X: You said at one of the Anaheims that you were going to win one of these before the end of the season. Some people probably thought that was arrogant of you to say...
Josh Hill: I wasn’t trying to be cocky, but I’ve been putting in the work, so it just finally paid off.

What about the inconsistency you’ve had this year?
I feel like I’m getting better. I was really sick, actually. From San Francisco on, I really couldn’t ride during the week, and I had the flu for a bit, and that really set me back. Ever since then, I started to get better. At Houston, I faded because I was still a little bit sick, and then in Atlanta I thought I was doing really good, and then I crashed. Then we went to Indianapolis, and I got second, and then last weekend, I forgot my jet ski. The Lites class, you go around the first lap, and if you come out of it without getting landed on or landing on anyone else, you’re doing pretty good. This class, if you’re not in the top eight guys on the first lap, you’re done – I mean, you’re not done, I guess, but it’s ruined my night a few times. I’m not that gnarly yet (laughs).

When Ryan Dungey was in front of you, was there a little bit of added motivation to not get beaten by another young guy like yourself?
It is his hometown, so that was going to make it too sweet, you know? No, I’m just kidding. Really, he’s in the same boat as I am. It’s his second year, and I thought I could beat him. I really thought I could chase him down. I knew, also, that I had to get going, because somewhere in the mix, Chad [Reed] would be there. I was just in the right place at the right time. Chad made a mistake, and I just cruised along to victory, pretty much. After I broke away from Dungey, I kind of just was able to get into a smooth pace and keep it going.

What were your nerves like late in the race?

As weird as it was, I think I was just in a daze out there or something, because I wasn’t nervous one bit. I swear. The only time I got nervous was on lap 13 when I came up on Paul Carpenter, because I knew he owed me one from Phoenix when I passed him on the blue flag, and it wasn’t going to be cool when he was getting the blue flag for me. So, once I got by him, I was pretty happy.

So you felt like you were home free at that point?

A little bit. I knew that anything could happen, but I also knew that I’d outlasted Dungey and that mentally, I beat him. I knew I was going to win that race, and that he had settled for second at that point, and it was me.

It did sort of seem like you were being cautious, though, because you didn’t celebrate at all over either triple on the last lap despite your lead.

I forgot they were triples! I was just riding. I wasn’t even thinking about doing tricks. I mean, I don’t think the crowd really wanted me to win, anyways! I was riding around going, “Yeah, wooooo!” and I didn’t hear anybody! I got next to Dungey so I’d feel better (laughs)!

What does this win do for your confidence?
I mean, Chad had problems. I haven’t beaten Chad straight-up. Has anybody? I haven’t been paying attention. I’ve been in the back of the pack. I don’t know if anyone has beaten him straight-up yet. He’s gnarly! I guess [James] Stewart did. But it’s going to be tough. It’s not going to be easy at all to do this again, and my rollercoaster-ride season... If I keep my track-record, I should be 17th next weekend. But I think my program has really improved where I’m mentally in the game a lot more when I show up to the race. Before, I’d really work hard during the week, and I’d do my homework during the week, but I’d show up at the race and either be drained or just mentally not focused enough, and I think Ryan Hughes has really helped me out with that. My parents and everyone else have helped me get to where I am now, but I think Ryno has really helped me with that mental edge. The stuff that he’s helped me out with, I don’t know who else could’ve done that for me.

What was that device on your helmet?

That’s my GPS! I knew where everybody was at... No, but that’s the new sponsor for Yamaha. It’s a little camera called a GoPro Hero. It’s just a little camera, but you’d be amazed at the helmet-cam video. It’s better than what the show on TV on helmet-cams. It’s totally clear! It’s crazy, because the thing’s like two inches by an inch. It’s tiny.

Is your new Monster sponsorship good luck now? Is that what’s going on?

I was Monster last weekend... But you guys couldn’t see it, so I guess this weekend, I unleashed the beast because it wasn’t covered up. We’d been talking about getting me an energy drink for a while, and I think when I got on the podium in Indianapolis, it kind of sped things up a little bit.

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