Features 12 Jul 2010

Moto Talk with Josh Brookes

MotoOnline catches up with BSB title leader Josh Brookes in the lead-up to his Silverstone WSBK wild card.

Josh Brookes is one of the most talented Australians based overseas at the moment, the former ASBK Superbike and dual Supersport champion now at the top of his game in the British Superbike Championship.

Brookes took a step sideways last year as the reigning World Supersport number three to join the powerhouse HM Plant Honda team in BSB, finishing fourth in the series as a rookie.

In 2010, Brookes finds himself leading the series after six rounds, also picking up a double race victory in his National Superstock debut at Silverstone’s MotoGP event.

MotoOnline.com.au gave the 27-year-old a quick call late last night to get his thoughts on a number of topics, including his World Superbike wild card that he’s secured for next month’s British round at Silverstone.

Aussie Josh Brookes has been a title favourite throughout 2010 in British Superbikes.

Aussie Josh Brookes has been a title favourite throughout 2010 in British Superbikes.

Josh, you lead the title by four points heading to Snetterton, how’s it feel to lead the British Superbike Championship at this point in the series?

Yeah, it’s always good to lead a series, but with racing you know how it is. You set goals whether it’s Australian Superbike, BSB or World Superbike, and they are just what you’re aiming for during the season. To be leading it at this stage means we are halfway there to achieving one of those goals.

That feels good, but I’m well aware that anything can happen. I feel really lucky that I didn’t get injured worse when I crashed in testing the other day. I mean, one minute you can be leading and then the next minute it can all go really bad, so I’m not going to get too complacent with the position that I’m in.

I just need to keep racing like normal really. It’s good to be in the series lead though, especially after the troubles of last year – it’s good to reflect on something good for sure.

An important aspect of BSB in 2010 is the Podium Credits that award you for first, second or third places in the Showdown for the series. You’re second in that right now, two behind Hill and equal with Kiyo, so after Cadwell next month it’ll be a huge fight for the title over three rounds…

The points are going to be really close when we get to those last three rounds since they’ll put the top six riders in the series on 500 points each and then add our Podium Credits to them, leaving us to fight over the final few rounds.

To be honest, that’s the side of BSB that’s not really that happy with – it should be like a normal championship where you work at your points throughout the whole year and the champion is awarded at the end. But they’ve decided to try something new for this year and I sort of just have to accept it.

All of the Podium Credits are really close because we’ve all had really similar podium results so far, so it’s going to be just like a three round championship for those last few rounds.

You had a big crash during testing last week at Darley Moor – are you all good to go for this weekend at Snetterton?

Well the first thing that hit the ground was my lower back and that was a big shock, really concerning. It was probably the biggest impact I’ve ever had on my back throughout my whole career. After a few moments of laying on the track you sort of start to move everything around a bit, and I realised that my hand and foot were quite sore as well.

The medics at the track were quite quick to want to take me to hospital, really pushing me to go and get checked out, so I thought I better go. They X-rayed my everything and it all turned out alright, but a few days on now I’m still in quite a bit of pain. For the race coming up I’ll just have to ignore the pain and get on with it.

Brookes made headlines at Cadwell Park in his first visit to the circuit this season.

Brookes made headlines at Cadwell Park in his first visit to the circuit this season.

You’ve taken two wins this year and have been consistently fast, are you all settled in at HM Plant Honda now that you worked through the hiccups of last year?

Yeah, I’ve felt settled in from the start this year even though the first couple of rounds weren’t that strong. I knew that we have a good team and that the bike’s good, so we’ve been getting stronger as each round goes on.

We’ve had a few tests to work on the bike, but ideally we’d like to do some more because these days you don’t get to do that many. The bike’s getting better and better.

At the start of the year Suzuki looked really strong with Tommy Hill, not unbeatable but really quick every time they went out on track. Now we are just as competitive as them, so with some more races and progress I think we can get even stronger.

I’m just happy in the environment that I’m in at the moment, the team trust everything that I say and they’re working to make the bike better for me if they can. Anything they can do to help me go better, they do, so that’s all you can really ask for.

You raced at the Silverstone round of the Nationals Superstock Championship and took two wins, so that must have been some fun to race without the pressure of a title for a weekend?

Yeah, it was. During the weekend I thought how I’d prefer to be on the Superbike because it’s more fun, more challenging and I like to work with the Superbike. But when the races came it was quite good to race the Superstock bike because the set-up wasn’t so crucial.

You don’t have as much power or as much grip, which means you can get away with more things. The bike settings aren’t so crucial, so if you brake the latest and gas it the earliest then you have a good chance of winning.

So that took the pressure of working on set-up all weekend off, letting me to go and concentrate on riding the bike to the best of my ability. It was good fun during the race, having a battle, and we were doing big moves that you wouldn’t really get away with on a Superbike.

It was quite fun, old school style racing in a way. But I’m definitely happy to be back on the Superbike now after that event.

Interestingly, Bryan Staring will be on that same bike that’s usually Steve Plater’s bike this weekend. How do you think he’ll stack up? It looks like a tough class!

Well yeah, it was just by chance that he got that opportunity. He was coming over to the UK anyway, so Honda said if he’s going to be here then they may as well chuck him on the bike since Steve’s still injured.

It’s a good opportunity for Bryan, a long old learning curve when you leave Australia, but I think he will do well because the bike is almost similar to what he races in Australia. The forks are standard, the brakes are standard and the swingarm’s standard – all those components that can make a real Superbike difficult to set up.

Those things should work to his advantage, he should feel comfortable right away on the bike once he learns the track. I know the team don’t really have any expectations on him, they’re not going to put him under pressure so that will be good too.

If he can just go out and ride to get a result for himself, rather than feeling under pressure, then I think that should suit him. It’s hard to rock up to a bike and be expected to ride it at your full potential straight away, but I think in the environment he’ll have with my team he’ll be well suited.

Brookes has been enjoying his second season in the UK, well settled in with HM Plant Honda.

Brookes has been enjoying his second season in the UK, well settled in with HM Plant Honda.

I guess your whole reason to race Silverstone was for practice on the new circuit before your WSBK wild card coming up. How excited are you for that and what are your expectations?

That was the primary reason for me wanting to do the Superstock race. Honda obviously wanted the bike on the grid while Steve was injured, but for me I just wanted to get time on that track.

With the World Superbike event coming up, I’ve raced in the world championships before so I haven’t really got any nerves about what it’s going to be like. I sort of know how it all works because I’ve been in WSBK for a couple of years before.

It’s like going into a paddock that I’m familiar with anyway, so hopefully my British championship is competitive enough. It’ll be good to see where we’re at compared to the world guys, because I know that we are getting stronger in BSB, but we don’t really know how competitive we are against the rest of the world.

I’m a little bit nervous because of that because I don’t know what to expect, but I’m just going to treat it like a BSB race and do my best and see what the results show. It’ll be good to see if we have a lot to work on or if we’re already at the world level – there really are a lot of unknowns for me at the moment.

Is this your big chance to return to the world stage? Is 2011 the time for you to go and show what you’ve got against the best?

Of course, yeah. It goes without saying that I want to get back to World Superbike. If it’s next year, I’m not sure, but I have to take it step by step. My primary goal is to stay on a bike that’s capable of winning races, so if that means going to World Supersport, staying in BSB, or finally getting a chance in World Superbike then I’d love to do it. I just want a bike that I believe is capable to win races.

For sure, if I do a good result at Silverstone then that will reconfirm in the WSBK paddock that I’ve got the ability to race with those guys at that level, so I think it’s a good opportunity to show that’s where I want to get back to.

Okay well we look forward to seeing it, good luck mate!

Okay mate, cheers!

The former ASBK champion has been a regular podium contender in BSB 2010.

The former ASBK champion has been a regular podium contender in BSB 2010.