In recent years, RCH Suzuki has made an unprecedented amount of progress. It was not too long ago that the team (formerly Hart and Huntington) had two guys that finished outside of the top ten each week, and had a pit presence that included a couple of smoke machines and some pole dancers. But now, you could argue that they have the most impressive outfit in the pits.
When Hart and Huntington transformed into the RCH Suzuki squad at the end of last year, it was quite clear that their ethos was changing. Prior to the start of this year, results were not their priority. Sure, they wanted to achieve some great results, but they were already ahead of their rivals when it came to their presence in the pits. It has always been hard for a new team to sign podium contenders at first – that is the problem that H&H ran into back in 2007, when the team was the first formed.
But, the team still has not signed a rider capable of finishing on the podium consistently; this has proven to be quite hard for them. Despite the fact that they are now a respected factory outfit and have the name Ricky Carmichael attached to their program, a common theory is that some guys are still put off by the fact that the team used to have a controversial setup in the pits – even though they have not had any of that stuff for quite a while now. RCH did step up the level of guys that they had beneath their awning this season, as they had former 250SX West champion Broc Tickle. But, they desperately want one of the elite title contenders.
Despite the fact that the team has never had one of their riders finish on the podium in AMA Supercross (or Motocross), they are undoubtedly the most successful squad in the pits when it comes to pulling in sponsors. Just look at their truck – it is plastered with a variety of logos, and not just moto-related ones. Intriguingly, both Carey Hart and Kenny Watson have tackled their squad from a different standpoint; they have also proven that in order to bring in a well known outside sponsor (Dodge, Sycuan Casino, Soaring Eagle, to name a few) you don’t have to be winning races.
Honestly, I think that the RCH Suzuki team is great for the sport. When they eventually sign a title contender, they will surely be leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. After all, all the team needs is a title contender; that is the missing piece of this puzzle. RCH already have the staff, the bikes and the sponsors, so it is bound to fall into place eventually. In fact, they may be in a position to sign the type of contender that they desire for the 2015 season, as quite a few of the riders’ contracts expire at the conclusion of next year.
Obviously 2014 is their primary goal, as they will be hoping to get the most out of Broc Tickle and Josh Hill. Although this is the same lineup as they had this year, they will be taking Hill to the outdoors too in 2014, as they now receive two factory bikes from Suzuki. Josh could be a massive surprise next year; his form at the end of the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series suggests that he will be battling up front. In fact, Hill could end up beating Tickle quite consistently, which would make for an intriguing storyline. Obviously, Broc will be strong; he struggles to break out of his comfort zone though, which tends to restrict him to the lower half of the top ten, more often than not.
It is going to be interesting to watch RCH Suzuki grow over the next few years, as they are always implementing innovative ideas, hence why the sport is a better place with them in it. In my opinion, RCH will be the ones to watch at the end of 2014, as they will undoubtedly be attempting to sign some of the biggest names in the sport, and judging by the quality of their program, I see no reason why they will not succeed.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image: Suzuki Racing