Features 12 Jun 2014

Catching Up: Broc Parkes

Aussie MotoGP representative on the challenges and experiences within the premier class.

One of Australia’s most credentialed international racers of recent times Broc Parkes took on a new and significant challenge in 2014, enlisting in MotoGP with the Paul Bird Motorsport squad. With the task of racing an in-house bike looming large in front of him, Parkes has adapted well and already has points to his name as the series moves past one-third distance. CycleOnline.com.au spoke to Parkes as he prepares for his ‘local’ GP close to his Spanish base, finding out more about his maiden season in the premier class to date.

Source: Paul Bird Motorsport.

Source: Paul Bird Motorsport.

We’re well into the MotoGP season now and you’ve got a number of starts under your belt with the PBM team. Overall, how do you feel you have started off?

For me, its a big learning curve. Even last race at Mugello, and pretty much every track I’ve been to, has been a new one. That’s been a little bit tough, to learn tracks and the bike, and to get the best setup for the race. In general, I think we are whereabouts we expected to be. I was hoping to be a bit closer to the other guys in the class, which was sort of the goal, but the more the season goes on, it becomes harder and harder than we thought. In general I’m getting better and better on the bike every time I get on it.

And what about the bike, is there much going on in terms of development as the races progress?

Last race was the first time we got new parts. We got a different tank, so I could get a bit lower. The development side of the team is really at a minimum; the team is so small. On my side of the box there really is only three people, two mechanics and a chief mechanic. There’s no electronics guys or anything. And Aprilia didn’t have a Magnetti Marelli system so basically we’re trying to develop our own system. We’re not really making that many changes, we’re basically just rolling the bike out each time. I think as the year goes on it will only get more tough as everybody is getting better and we’re staying the same I think.

This is obviously a bit of a different assignment for you. In previous years you’ve been fighting at the front of the pack in premier international championships, whereas you took on this challenge knowing full well the limitations that were there. How do you reset your approach to this?

For sure, I knew it would be tough, setting a mindset to be battling at the back. There are five bikes in our battle, which are the two Avinti bikes, and [Danilo] Petrucci on Aprilia, and then my teammate Michael [Laverty]. I think for me my qualifying has been quite good, but my race pace needs to improve. I’m good for half a race, but in the second half I seem to have a bit of a problem with arm pump. Just physically to ride the bike and change my style is a big adaptation. I’m getting there but there’s a way to go. A lot of people say that comes from experience on the bike. Michael last year was the same in the first half, but improved in the second half. For me the biggest thing to improve is my race pace and trying to beat my teammate.

What’s it like working alongside Michael; are you guys working together and pooling ideas to try to better understand these bikes?

Because the team is so small we have to try to work together as much as possible. But there’s always going to be that rivalry and that need to beat your teammate. He’s a nice guy and we do talk about everything to try to improve. From my side I seem to change a lot of things and we always have the same problems. He tries so much stuff over a weekend but seems to have a better base, and he always goes back to that for the race. It’s a little bit frustrating because you can change so many things but the end result always seems to be the same. And we’re always complaining of the same problems!

You scored points in your first outing at Qatar, would you say that has been your best race to date or would you choose another?

It is hard to say. I don’t think that much has changed over all the races. I feel that Qatar was probably one of my strongest races. Other than that maybe Le Mans, where I felt like I did everything I could, and gave the best I had on the day. It’s hard to pinpoint any one over the other, they’ve all been pretty difficult.

Source: Paul Bird Motorsport.

Source: Paul Bird Motorsport.

The Catalunya GP is effectively your home race, away from Australia. How are you feeling heading into the weekend?

I’ve never been to the track actually. It’s another new track for me. I’ve heard it is a bit easier to learn than Mugello and some of the others. I’ve got a lot of people coming and even got some friends from Australia so I’m looking forward to it.

Parallel to your grand prix season you’re also back on board for the World Endurance races with the Suzuka 8 Hour coming up soon. It must be good to know that you’re heading to the event with a good bike and some very experienced teammates alongside you?

Absolutely. To be honest the 8 Hour for me is funnily enough one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to right now. I think we’re going to have a really strong team. I start testing at the start of July, after Assen. It’s a great event and I think with this bike I can show my true colours, so I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be good to have Josh [Brookes] on board, he’s been so strong on the Yamaha in BSB, and Nakasuga wins everything in Japan, so that’s good. With me last year I had really good pace. The only thing with the Yamaha is that it is a bit heavier and drinks a bit more fuel. With Ricky [Olson] and [Wayne] Maxwell on board it will be good. It looks like these guys could be on for the whole season. And the Oschersleben 8 Hour looks like it could be an an all-Aussie team with those guys and myself, which is another thing to look forward to.

Thanks for the time to chat Broc, we appreciate it.

No troubles, thank you.