Although a first turn crash scuppered his quest for victory at the finale of the Australian Supercross Championship, there was no denying Josh Hill’s electric speed at Wagga Wagga.
Words: Edward Stratmann | Lead Image: Yamaha Australia
Relishing the challenging track that featured some huge jumps and testing rhythm sections, Hill adapted superbly to the conditions that suited the gifted rider brilliantly.
Immediately comfortable and hitting everything with aplomb, the CDR Yamaha Monster Energy pilot kicked off his day in fine fashion by claiming victory in his heat race.
Despite getting off to a dreadful start that saw him buried deep in the pack, Hill immediately began to impose himself on proceedings to carry his earlier form into race one.
Progressing to sixth half way through the first lap, he was a man on a mission to get to the front as soon as possible, not wanting the likes of Matt Moss and Justin Brayton to get away.
Making short work of quality operators in Aaron Tanti, Dylan Wills and then Kyle Webster with an emphatic move in the whoops, this propelled Hill into third by the end of the opening lap. An incredible feat considering his unsatisfactory start.
Possessing the pace to match it with the dynamic duo ahead, Hill slotted in behind Brayton and wasted little time getting to his rear wheel. Thrilling the crowd by persistently popping the monstrous quad, attacking the track with vigour and by being creative with his lines, the ultra stylish #75 was putting on a real show.
Brimming with confidence, looking so assured in the conditions and gradually closing in, he eventually bridged the gap to under a second to the red plate holder on lap seven.
Clearly holding the speed advantage near the end of the lap, where he’d stick the quad, scrub the hip jump and then blitz the whoops, this combination eventually bore fruit when he got by Brayton on the penultimate lap – just before the Honda star got a flat.
While he attempted to hunt down Moss on the last lap, he was ultimately forced to settle for second, in a moto where he banked the third quickest lap time and was one of only four men to record a 1.02 or lower.
Hoping to enjoy a far better jump out of the gate in the second race, disappointingly this wasn’t to be for Hill, for he got squeezed and went down at the first turn.
Rapidly remounting and desperate to make up for lost time, the experienced veteran then embarked on a truly remarkable charge from last to the podium.
Carving his way through the field with precision and breathtaking speed, it took less than two laps for him to hit the top 10 and three until he was in eighth.
Laying down the hammer with gusto and hitting his markers, there was no stopping him, as he scorched into fifth by the midway point. Unquestionably the fastest man on track and absolutely flying, next on his list was Wills, who he duly got by with three to go.
Continuing his surge in the dying stages, he then made it past Brayton, who offered little resistance and let him by as he was coasting to the title, to finish an outstanding third. Indeed, this third was a fitting reward for his relentless charge, which also saw him secure a deserved third overall to give Yamaha a lockout of the podium.
By the numbers, the fact he produced the fastest lap in the second race and was the only man to put in a 1.01 in the moto underlined his scintillating effort.
Following his accomplished ride at Wagga Wagga to bag his second overall podium of his AUSX crusade, this ensured he claimed an admirable fifth in the final standings despite missing the first round, in a campaign where he impressively filled-in for the injured Luke Clout.
Ending his year on a high and serving as a terrific preparation for his assault on AMA Supercross in 2023, where he’ll be joining forces with his brother under the Team Tedder awning, he’ll be hoping to carry his positive momentum from racing in Oz over to the highly anticipated Anaheim 1 come January 7.