The Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team ventured to the Pacific Northwest and the serene landscape of Washougal, Washington for round nine of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and there were glimpses of brilliance from the Suzuki RM-Z450 fleet of Justin Hill, Weston Peick, and Justin Bogle.
Hill landed the second-quickest qualifying time and finished fourth in the opening moto. Bogle scored both holeshots, raising his tally to six in the past eight motos, and showed promise. Peick charged hard for another top-10 finish despite being hampered by a hand injury. In the 250 class, Suzuki RM-Z250 team-mates Enzo Lopes and Jimmy Decotis had great starts, but costly mistakes held them back from their true potential.
Most riders would have called it a summer after sustaining a hand injury to the effect of Weston Peick’s condition. However, Peick refuses to give up. The Californian fought through pain caused by a tricky and bump-riddled track to score his ninth consecutive top-10 finish. It’s a testament to Peick’s willingness to do what it takes to succeed regardless of the circumstances. “The Viking” is sixth in the points standings.
Hill went into his home National at Washougal with high expectations. The Yoncalla, Oregon native looked impressive on the Suzuki RM-Z450, logging the second-fastest 450 qualifying time and jetting out to a second place start in the first moto. A bout of tightness held him to fourth place – tying a career-best moto finish. Hill was eyeing his first 450 National podium and put himself in a good spot while running second in the final moto. Unfortunately, he cross-rutted landing from a jump, which sent him into a tree. The impact left Hill with a banged-up knee. He will undergo an evaluation this week to determine the severity of the injury. Hill is currently ninth in the overall standings.
Bogle is working his way back to National-winning form after dealing with several major injuries sustained earlier in the year. The Cushing, Oklahoma native is quickly putting up numbers in the holeshot department that are astonishing. Leading the 40-racer pack to the first turn in both motos at Washougal, Bogle improved his record to six holeshots in the past eight motos. However, residual effects from an upper arm injury slowed Bogle’s advance during both motos. He finished 18th overall on the day and sits 26th in the points standings.
The pride of Brazil, Enzo Lopes, qualified 15th fastest in practice and was running inside the top 10 in both motos. Lopes is adapting to professional racing, and being in the lead pack at Washougal was a valuable experience for the youngster. He finished 15th overall and is 21st in the points standings.
Decotis has the skills to be up front, evidenced by his great start in the first moto. Unfortunately, he has been battling with an energy-sapping sickness that has held him back from reaching his full potential. Decotis went 18-21 for 21st overall and is 27th in the points standings.
Weston Peick [450 Class, 12-6 for 8th Place]:
“I had some issues with my hand because the track was hard-pack and choppy. There wasn’t much forgiveness on that track, so I had to back my speed down quite a bit in order to survive. We made a few changes in between motos, and I ended up sixth in the second moto. I still struggled with my hand. Fortunately, I had a gap in the middle of the moto and was able to relax for a few laps before charging hard at the end. I’m counting down the days until I can get surgery on my hand.”
Justin Hill [450 Class, 4-37 for 12th Place]:
“Qualifying went well and I was very comfortable on the Suzuki RM-Z450. I had a great start in the first moto but expended too much energy trying to get around my teammate [Justin Bogle]. I was smoked by the time I was in third place. I learned quite a bit by being upfront with those guys. Then, while running third in the second moto, I had a huge crash. It was a strange deal where I landed sideways in some ruts. I tried to blast out of it and straighten up the bike. By doing that I swapped even harder and flew straight into a tree. I’ve definitely felt better than I do right now. My left knee is swollen up almost as big as a volleyball right now. It seems that I’m just tough enough to not get broken, but I’m wimpy enough to get hurt every time I hit the ground.”
Justin Bogle [450 Class, 13-34 for 18th Place]:
“I got the holeshot in the first moto and held the lead for the first few laps. I’m having issues with my arm and being able to hang on after five laps. I’m struggling with that right now. I have to slow down and ride a pace that I can maintain without crashing. That pace is around 13th place right now. It’s a bummer because when instincts kick in I’m very capable of doing well. I holeshot the second moto, and I landed hard off a wall jump. My arm got hot and tingly, which didn’t feel right. I’m going to get my arm checked out this week and make sure everything is good.”
Enzo Lopes [250 Class, 14-15 for 15th Place]:
“It was a step in the right direction. Practice went okay. I felt good on the bike and qualified 15th. I knew that I could do more on the bike, so I went into the first moto pretty confident. I came around the first turn in eighth but dropped back to 13th. I got a decent start in the second moto and was aggressive through the first few turns and was around ninth place. I was in that position for half of the moto, but then I got tired because I haven’t been riding a lot due to my collarbone injury. There were positives to take away from the day. I’m stoked to be on the Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team.”
Jimmy Decotis [250 Class, 18-21 for 21st Place]:
“I rode well in the first qualifying practice. The track was wet, so the traction was hard to find. Still, I felt good on my Suzuki RM-Z250. I wasn’t worried about my time but instead put in a hard moto during the second practice session. I got off to a great start in the first moto, but I struggled during the opening laps and dropped back. I started to find a flow around the halfway mark. I had a good start again in the second moto. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any energy. I’ve been sick since before Millville. The second moto was a challenge, and I’m doing my best to get healthy again.”
Jeremy Albrecht [Team Manager]:
“It was quite a weekend for the Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team. There were some good takeaways from Washougal. Enzo Lopes rode better. He was inside the top 10 for a while and made less mistakes than the past weekend. Justin Hill rode hard and got good starts. Justin Bogle holeshot both motos and is remaining up front longer and longer. Weston Peick struggled with his hand, which is why he dropped back to 12th in the first moto. He redeemed himself in the second moto. He didn’t have to ride as hard the whole time that moto, which was good. Jimmy Decotis hasn’t been feeling well, but hopefully, he finds some answers during the weekend off.
“This past week we welcomed Suzuki’s top amateur racers for the first annual RM Army week. It was fun working with all of the amateur riders. Justin Hill helped the kids with starts, and that translated into him getting better starts at Washougal. The event was a lot of work, but it turned out really well. We are definitely going to do it again in the future. The kids were great. It gives us a reason to follow their racing accomplishments. After all, we’re all part of the Suzuki family. I wish them well at Loretta Lynn’s this week.”
The Autotrader/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team will have a weekend break before heading to New Berlin, New York for round 10 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on Saturday, August 11th.
Words and images courtesy Team Suzuki Press Office