Tickle (No. 20 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450 is currently 10th in the 450SX Class rider standings, three points shy of ninth. He has earned 11 consecutive Main Event starts this season and posted five top-10 finishes on his scorecard. With thoughts of a rider’s championship in the distance, the former 2011 Supercross Lites West champion has turned his focus to a top-five Main Event finish.
The ultra-fit Tickle shrugs off the notion that three consecutive months of racing has been a detraction in his first full-year in the sport’s premier division.
“I feel really good,” Tickle said. “When I get to the race, I’m not nervous like I was the first couple of races of the season. The first few rounds were nerve-wracking for me. I don’t know why; it’s just how it was. I’m having a lot of fun at the track now, putting in my time during the week to prepare and I feel healthy. Even though I scored 11th last week at Indy, it was a good ride for me because I crashed right after the start. My average lap times were fast. I was running right around (Chad) Reed and he scored sixth.”
Canada’s largest city may be exactly what pushes the Michigan native over the hump and score his first podium finish of the season. The 24-year-old made his first career professional start in Toronto where he finished third.
“Ever since that podium (SX Lites East) in 2009, my professional career has moved forward. It’s been really good,” he added. “I haven’t really had a bad season since that Toronto race and it certainly will hold a cool place in my mind of where I got my professional career going. I like the dome in Toronto. I like the dirt. The racing seems to be fast. The crowds are gnarly and it’s a cool city. I can’t wait to get up there and race.”
Hill (No. 75 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) earned a season-best, 12th-place finish last weekend in Indianapolis after an early season setback relegated him to the sidelines for a month. The fiery Hill has used weekday practice sessions to hone his riding skills back to an elite level but knows his climb back to the top-10 is more physical than mental.
“The top 10 guys are killer right now,” said Hill. “The guys I’m riding against now are basically the same group that I grew up battling against all my life. Maybe (Justin) Barcia and (Jake) Weimer are the only two that I don’t have a lot of experience going up against. I really don’t feel like anything has changed because everybody is doing the same things.”
With a scoring average of 4.6 in three Monster Energy AMA Supercross races at Rogers Centre, the return to Toronto may be the perfect remedy for the former SX Rookie of the Year.
“The bikes have gotten much better and the tracks have gotten harder but I think that I can get right back up there and race with these guys,” Hill said. “I just need to keep getting good starts in the Main and put my bike up front. Getting on the track and racing with these guys will help my instincts of knowing when to pull the trigger and make passes, go after it.”
SPEED’s exclusive live coverage of Round 12 at Toronto will begin at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday night.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The Race: Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series – Round 12 of 17 The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto The Date: Saturday, March 23 The Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET) TV: SPEED (live), 7:30 p.m. (ET)