Tony Alessi, manager for the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda team, has posted photos of Broc Tickle testing with the team on his Instagram story. Upon the conclusion of his suspension from a failed anti-doping test from 2018, Tickle raced the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship with the JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing team. He competed in seven of the final 11 rounds as he missed time due to hand injuries before finishing 20th in the standings. He then signed as a fill-in rider for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team when Aaron Plessinger suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Tickle earned one moto podium (second in the first moto at the Loretta Lynn’s 2 National) and finished tenth in his first year of racing the championship since 2017. After working on an FXR-sponsored privateer effort of his own before being picked up by JGRMX before the end of his suspension, now, Tickle might be joining his third team in about a one-year span.
Tickle’s possible arrival questions the status of Justin Hill with the team going forward. Alessi’s posts show Vince Friese, Bloss, and 450SX rookie Shane McElrath still with the team, but our Steve Matthes is reporting Hill might be out. After one his first full year in the 450SX Class with the JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing team in 2019, Hill switched to the SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda team during the off-season. In the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, Hill started all 17 rounds and finished tenth in the standings, with a season-best fifth at the Tampa Supercross. Hill was expected to return to the team next year but, again as Matthes reports, the Oregon native's plans may have changed.
[Update: November 13, 6 p.m. EST: We've now received confirmation from the MCR team that Tickle will indeed replace Hill in the 2021 lineup. In an email, the team cited Hill's recent family situation (he and his wife just gave birth to their first child). When we spoke with Tony Alessi last week, he explained how Hill's racing situation may change, based on having to spend more time in Oregon than working with the team in California.
"He does have a few challenges going on at the moment," said Alessi. "He has the birth of a new child coming in a week or even less. It takes time to adjust to that situation, and we’re aware of that. He recently got married and they built a house up there. They will have to spend a little more time in Oregon. So, those are challenges."