Josh Brookes has left World Supersport for British Superbike in 2009, joining the factory ranks along the way.
From the outside looking in, Josh Brookes’ decision to leave the Supersport World Championship to join the HM Plant Honda team in the British Superbike Championship might seem like an odd choice.
But in speaking to the 25-year-old, the decision stems from sitting back and looking at the big picture. Brookes’ new HM Plant Honda team is a factory effort, placing him on factory machinery for the first time in his European career.
With British Superbike front runners quickly becoming the riders of choice for top World Superbike teams (Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea, and Shane Byrne, to name a few), Brookes is hoping a strong performance propels him to factory-supported WSBK team.
MotoOnline.com.au catches up with Brookes, a former Australian Superbike and double Supersport Champion, less than a month before the BSB season kicks off.
You’ve just finished testing in Spain, how are you adapting to the HM Plant Honda British Superbike after a couple of years in World Supersport?
It hasn’t been too bad so far. I still remember everything from when I raced Superbikes before, which doesn’t seem like so long ago and you never really forget it. We had three days at Almeria and then another three days at Guadix, which the team said is more like a British track than Almeria.
The first few days at Almeria was basically getting to know the guys and getting myself comfortable on the bike, getting to know how it reacts and all of that kind of stuff.
At first the bike was really uncomfortable to ride because it was Cal Crutchlow’s old bike and he is pretty short compared to me. I felt really cramped so we moved the foot rests and got my position comfortable on it, and then we just played around with the settings for the next couple of days.
I was able to let the guys know how I work and they were sort of showing me how they work, and what data they can record, what can be changed on the bike, and that sort of thing, so it was really just a shakedown test.
And then we went to Guadix and tried to get on the pace. There was no official timing, but from what everyone said I was second quickest behind Sylvain Guintoli on the Suzuki. They’ve been doing a lot of testing and Guintoli’s had a lot of time on the bike, so it’s sort of given us a good indication that we’ll be strong at the first race.
Will you be doing much more testing before the BSB season starts at Brands Hatch Indy next month?
Nah, just one day at Brands, which is an official test day before the race practice sessions begin. Everybody will be there for that one.
Is learning the tracks a concern for you?
At first I didn’t think so, but everyone that I’ve spoken to who has ridden in BSB has said that it might be pretty hard because a lot of the tracks are pretty special. Even now I don’t really know a lot of them so it’s hard for me to say, but just listening to other people it might be tough. At the moment I’m not that sure. I’ve never really had trouble learning tracks in the past so if I go from my previous experiences I should be okay, but I’ve got to listen to people around me as well. We’ll just have to wait and see.
You’ll be up against new competitors this year. Have you had a chance to ride with many of them yet?
I’ve done a little bit of riding with my teammate Glen Richards. I’ve seen Guintoli on the track, as well as Harris and Easton. There are a few guys who I have ridden with before and at these early tests, but I think most of the guys will be new for me so I’ll have to get to know what it’s like riding against new competitors.
What are your expectations heading into the season?
I believe that I’m on the best team, or at least the equal best team, and I’ve been at the top in World Supersport, so given that I’m with a good team and I’ve won in Australia and the world championship, my expectations are to try to win. I know it’s going to be tough and I’ve got a lot to learn, but I expect and hope to win.
Did you join the HM Plant Honda team in BSB in the hope of moving to good machinery in World Superbike by proving you can ride a 1000 in BSB?
Yeah, exactly. I found it tough trying to get ahead riding for private teams for so many years. Even to get a ride in the first place the only way is to get a ride in a private team, but I seemed to be stuck in a rut where I couldn’t escape the private teams. I needed a change of scenery and to try something new, and a lot of riders have gone from the British championship into the world championship. This will be the first factory bike and factory team that I’ve ridden for out of Australia, so hopefully it will open the doors for something bigger and better.
Were there any WSBK or WSS opportunities that would have allowed you to remain in the world championship this year?
For sure, I had a couple of opportunities to stay in World Supersport, and then there were two opportunities to go back to World Superbike – one with Stiggy Honda and one with another team. Like I said, I didn’t want to go with a private team, so I decided to go with a factory team in the British domestic championship.
So you’re satisfied with the decision to join a factory team in the British championship, which is probably the biggest domestic Superbike championship in the world?
It was a really easy decision for me to make. At the end of last year when it was released that I had made that decision, a lot of people asked me was it a hard choice to leave the worlds and to join the British championship. But it was one of the easiest choices that I’ve had to make because to go to a factory team isn’t really a difficult choice. I think every rider dreams of riding in a factory team, so when you get that opportunity, even if it means going back to a domestic championship, then it was something I was prepared to do.
Where do you see yourself in three years from now?
In three years I hope to be either winning in World Superbike or to join a MotoGP team. I don’t know how realistic those hopes may be, but that’s my ideal goal that I’ve set out to achieve.