Wow, I still cannot believe how good Anaheim 2 was! Obviously, the top guys have received a lot of attention thus far. However, there are a couple of riders that deserve praise for how they rode this past weekend, as they exceeded the expectations that we had of them. So, in this weekly feature, we like to put the spotlight on the riders that you may not have noticed at the third round of the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series.
Justin Hill (250SX): If you read a lot of my articles, you will know that I believe in Justin Hill. I honestly believe that he has the potential to mix it up with the elite riders in the 250SX west class. However, prior to this past weekend, Justin had not shown too much speed, as he was floundering around outside of the top five. Although he only narrowly improved his result at A2, the way that he achieved his fifth place was extremely impressive.
I am sure that you have watched the 250SX main event by now; did you see a Kawasaki rider get separated from his bike in the first rhythm section and lose a ton of time? Well, that was Hill. But, despite that crash, he pulled through to finish fifth. Hill had to deal with a bent bike too, which meant that his performance was even stronger. In his rookie season last year, Hill had two fifth place finishes. But, that was against lesser competition, it has to be said.
You cannot discredit his result at all; he earnt that finish, as he had to come back from dead last. Honestly, I was surprised that his lap times were not on par with the leaders. However, you can put that down to the fact that he was constantly coming through traffic; Hill did not have a clear track like those guys. I am interested to see what he can do with a good start; it would not surprise me if he wins a race before the end of the year. Justin has to finish up on the box at some point; if he fails to do that, the season will be a disaster, in my opinion.
Weston Peick (450SX): In recent years Weston Peick has gained a lot of new fans, because of his speed and attitude to racing. Peick has a much stronger program this year; he is receiving some support from Suzuki, and he has a title sponsor in the form of MotoSport, so racing is a lot easier for him this year. However, he still does not have the type of support that we think he deserves.
Anyway, I digress. At Anaheim 2, Peick defied the odds and finished seventh, despite the fact that he bruised his lungs in a vicious fall in Phoenix one weekend earlier. Honestly, I was a bit surprised that he was even on-track this past weekend, let alone up front! You have to check out his crash, if you have not already – it was bad! I am certain that most guys wouldn’t have gotten up from it. But, in true Weston Peick fashion, it did not faze him in the slightest.
In the 450SX main event, Weston got a reasonably good start on the cusp of the top ten, and then began working his way through the pack at a steady pace. Eventually he got to seventh, which is where he finished. Since 2012 he has finished in seventh on two occasions, so rarely does he finish that far up. However, he managed it this past weekend against a stacked field, and in less than ideal circumstances; he was still a little beat up from round two. You have to give him credit for how he has improved in supercross over the last few years.
I expect Weston to continue finishing in the top ten, as he clearly has the speed. After all, he showed a good amount of speed at Anaheim 1 too; he had the sixth fastest lap time! If Peick can continue riding like this, a strong team will surely pick him up for next year. 2014 may be a long way off, but those negotiations will begin very soon.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: James Lissimore