Features 9 Dec 2010

Mid Week with Josh Brookes

MotoOnline.com.au chats with Superbike star Josh Brookes about his 6 Hour win and switching to Suzuki for BSB 2011.

With the almighty rider combination of Josh Brookes and Wayne Maxwell for last weekend’s Bel-Ray 6 Hour, Australian Endurance Championship, the Demolition Plus GAS Honda Racing team was always the favourite to defend its title.

Brookes and Maxwell are two of the fastest men in the world around Phillip Island, and considering their previous endurance experience at the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan, you’d had have to be a very brave punter to bet against them on Sunday.

MotoOnline.com.au gave British Superbike Championship number two Brookes a call this week to get the lowdown on his 6 Hour victory with Maxwell, as well as to get the scoop on his surprise switch to Suzuki for 2011.

Josh Brookes (left) won The 6 Hour with Wayne Maxwell for Demolition Plus GAS Honda Racing last Sunday.

Josh Brookes (left) won The 6 Hour with Wayne Maxwell for Demolition Plus GAS Honda Racing last Sunday.

First of all, congratulations on The 6 Hour victory, that must have been a really good feeling to win the championship with one of your good buddies in Wayne Maxwell?

Yeah, a lot of good things come of that weekend really. One of the cool things was working with Geoff Winzer again since I used to work with him back when I first started riding the Superbike years ago – he gave me my first opportunity. So yeah, it was good to be reunited with Geoff again and reflect on old times.

Also to ride with Wayne was cool as well because we’ve been good mates for years. To team up and rely on each other made for a really fun weekend and we ended up getting the result we were looking for.

I spoke to you on Friday and you said you were planning on making some changes to help you get more comfortable, but by Sunday you seemed to be right there with mostly everything right…

Yeah, I mean on Friday we rode with Wayne’s settings and everything suited to him, but we only had to change a couple of things – I think it was more time on the bike since I hadn’t ridden an Australian spec bike for a while. It took me a little while to get used to the brakes, as well as the tyres since I’ve been on Pirelli for a long time now.

It was probably a good thing that I didn’t rush into it because I went okay on Friday, a little bit faster on Saturday and then by Sunday I felt pretty much at home on the bike and everything went well.

Both you and Wayne have done the Suzuka 8 Hours race before, so did that experience come into play much throughout the weekend?

I think it did, for sure. Everyone from the team always asked Wayne and I what we needed to make us stronger, were always open to our opinion and I think that really helped. Wayne and I were able to contribute a lot of information that we picked up by racing in Japan – just things like pit stops and stuff like that.

Even things that we knew could go wrong in the race, we sort of were able to give the team the heads up to keep an eye out for things. There were a lot of things that we could tell them that you just wouldn’t know or expect without going to the 8 Hour and having that experience for yourself.

You’re one of the top guys in the best domestic Superbike championship in the world in Britain, so how did it all come about for you to come back for The 6 Hour?

Well basically just being friends with Wayne. He knew that him team wanted to come back to race The 6 Hour again after winning last year, so obviously Wayne was their first pick since he rode for them this year and then they asked who he wanted to be teamed up with. The first person he mentioned was me, so Wayne called me up himself and told me they wanted to try win it again for Honda.

I said yeah since the BSB title was finished for the year, plus at that point I didn’t have a contract for this time of the year. I thought it was a good idea to race with Wayne and have a go at winning the Australian Endurance Championship. The rest of it all got organised, so it was good to be a part of it with the team.

Brookes finished runner-up in British Superbike this year, but he'll switch to Suzuki for 2011.

Brookes finished runner-up in British Superbike this year, but he'll switch to Suzuki for 2011.

Looking back on this year in BSB, you finished a really solid second, however it must have been somewhat disappointing for you to come so close and miss out on the title in the end?

I was disappointed not to win, because there were a lot of points during the season when I felt I had the speed and certain rounds I really dominated. I thought that if I could carry that form I would win it for sure, but it’s motor racing and anything can happen.

There were a couple of rounds where things didn’t go my way, a few times where the team could have made a few better choices and then maybe a few times when I didn’t make the right decisions.

There were a lot of things that went into it, but looking back now I rode 100 percent, did my best at all times – I can’t think of an event where I could have tried harder or anything like that. I’m actually quite happy with my efforts, but disappointed for sure not to end up winning the series. I’ll look back at areas I can work on and improve, so I look forward to making it happen next season.

Just finally, it’s a big switch to Suzuki with the Relentless Suzuki by TAS team next year – that has to have you motivated and rejuvenated for 2011?

Yeah, my first four-stroke championship was the Australian Supersport title back in 2001 and that was on a GSX-R so it’s 10 years exactly since I’ve ridden a Suzuki and now I’ll have a go at BSB on one. There are a couple of ironies in it, but I’m looking forward to it a lot.

If I went back with Honda again I’d be on the same bike on the same team for the third year, and as much as I love racing, I’d already experience that combination. Now, looking to next year, everything is really exciting since I’ll be with a new team on a new motorbike. It opens up a lot of new and exciting things to come.

It is a big challenge for me to leave Honda, but I’m not worried about the team because I know that they’ll be good enough – they are well and truly capable of contending for the championship because they did this year. I know the bike’s strong as Suzuki has proven to be strong in the Superbike category, so that won’t be a problem either. I believe in myself too, so I think the combination of being with Suzuki will be strong next year.

To be honest I think it was just time for me to step away from Honda, just to make a change anyway. Even if Honda had given me a great deal, I think it was just time to change anyway – they say that a change is as good as a holiday or something like that! There are a lot of good reasons to keep it interesting. Suzuki gave me the best deal in the end, but I was ready to move on anyway.