Features 31 Jan 2023

Five Questions: Broc Pearson

Sole DesmoSport ASBK rider on career lifeline and season 2023.

Receiving a lifeline of sorts with DesmoSport Ducati mid-last year, Broc Pearson immediately made an impact at Morgan Park with a solid 4-4 scorecard. The final two rounds of the Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) later provided challenges for the talented Queenslander, but he was ultimately able to secure the sole position with the team for 2023. In this latest feature, CycleOnline caught up with the 22-year-old to ask Five Questions about the DesmoSport opportunity, his preparation, and the team dynamic as the upcoming season fast approaches.

Image: Foremost Media.

How has the pre-season testing been going for yourself and DesmoSport Ducati?

Pretty good! We went down to Sydney [Motorsport Park] which was the first test for us this year. I had never ridden at Sydney Motorsport Park with the bike so I think the first night we had one 10 min qualifying and straight into the races. I was pretty behind, speed-wise because trying to learn a track as you go straight into racing is pretty difficult. Nevertheless, we improved more than anyone over the weekend – probably as I should anyways as I a fair way off at the start. Looking at the big picture, we dropped more seconds over the weekend and actually in the last race I moved a long way forward toward the end, and in that last race, I was probably one of the better riders towards the end with race pace. So, we made heaps of progress and I was really happy with that. We then went to Phillip Island for a couple of track days and I went the fastest that I ever have around there. The pre-season for us is going really good, and expectation-wise for the year, I think what my expectations were a couple of months ago to where they are now has definitely increased. I think we are a long way in front of where I thought we would have been, so I am really happy.

When did you know that you had the DesmoSport Ducati ride secured for 2023? 

At Morgan Park when I had a couple of fourths, I thought that if my progression would continue and at that point when I rolled out at Morgan Park with a couple of fourths, I thought there is no way that Desmo aren’t going to want me for next year. So I felt quite secure, in terms of prior to those last two rounds, but I knew that I needed to keep progressing. Then I went to Phillip Island and The Bend, and just had a shocker. Really from when I rolled out in practice, I wasn’t really able to continue to go forward when the rest of the riders were, so it was quite strange. We tested at The Bend and I was really fast, and then I went back there for the race and just got nowhere near the lap time that I did. Look it was a little bit overwhelming, to not make as much progress and then obviously I had a pretty big crash at The Bend, which put me on the back foot for the races.

I left The Bend thinking that I had no ride because I thought that I had probably underperformed and that I needed to continue to perform. The next couple of weeks after the season at The Bend was finished, I seriously thought I was without a ride this year which was disappointing. It was a bit weird, I continued to do all of my training and get up ridiculously early to get the stuff done. Then I got to a stage where I was like ‘why am I doing? I don’t even know if I have got a ride’. I kept at it, and a couple weeks went by and because I get on well with Troy [Bayliss], I put it straight to him and I said ‘I’m just curious, is there anything going on next year?’ He was very honest and said ‘you were probably a bit behind the eight-ball in the last couple of rounds’ and pretty much just implied that it didn’t look like I was going to get a ride.

Then a little bit of time went by and pretty much when the release came out, I had only really found out a couple of days prior to the time of that. I continued to keep up my routine for the sake of it, and one day I was next door to where Benny’s [team co-owner Ben Henry] workshop is, and he called me in for a chat once I was done the session. I actually thought I was walking in there for him to say you don’t have a ride, and then he sort of just said that the team are fully supportive of thinking I am capable for this shot, and I said to him that I think am I too, and with a good testing schedule underneath us I think there is no doubt that we should be able to win races this year. It all sort of went from there, the ride was mine and that’s how it rolled.

Image: Foremost Media.

Can you explain the importance of getting this second chance and continuity with the team for 2023? 

Last was like a really good year, in terms of learning and just to build a solid foundation from it. I learnt a lot as a rider, and just a bit as a person from going through the roller coasters of how things can be. So, I have no regrets for last year, it’s just a little bit challenging as I just started to get comfortable on one bike, then to make the switch [parting with 727 Moto Yamaha to then joining DesmoSport Ducati]. Even though it was a year of racing, I had three months off in the middle of the year [notably missing Hidden Valley] so it was a little bit like scrappy.

Like last year, no complaints or anything like that, but I was sort of… I didn’t have an environment where the team were fully supportive of one rider that they thought was going to do the job. Like Desmo’s main focus last year was Bryan [Staring], and I was extremely lucky that they even let me have a ride, just to sort of prove what I could do on the bike. But this year it is an environment that is fully supportive around me. So, I think it’s pretty important that I perform this year and I know what’s at stake. Look, nevertheless, it’s about the opportunity that I have got and to have the opportunity is huge, because as a young rider, it is really hard to get that opportunity – you need to do a lot of things right, more than just riding good.  I’m really happy with it, and I just hope that as this year goes on, I do a good enough job to start looking like a contender in this championship that deserves a ride full-time for the years that come.

What is the dynamic of the team like now that it has gone from two riders to one? 

When I was riding in the team last year, just the way that when I came onboard I basically brought myself an extra mechanic which has always been alongside me. That was pretty much all I brought to the team when I came in, so when I got off the bike at the same time as Bryan, the guys would obviously start the debrief with Bryan and I would sort of have to wait my turn to make a few changes for myself. Sometimes debriefs can take a long time, and in a situation when you need to wait your turn, sometimes we run out of time to make the changes and things like that. I never really cared, because I was just so grateful to be there. That rolls a similar way when the team is fully focused on one guy, and that’s fair enough Bryan was the one in championship contention so that’s how they should be. As that switches for this year, that will be the first time I have the full team’s focus and they are going to do absolutely everything in their power to get me to the front.

Are there any major updates or changes that the team will make to the bike to help with your assault this year? 

In terms of my bike this year and stuff like that, I don’t really know too many details regarding if there is anything new coming in this year. We’ve already got a really good package that is capable of winning races, so that’s lucky, we don’t need to branch out and search for new things that we need because we lack speed. The V4 R is obviously a bike that is known to win races, it has won championships in the last couple of years here and there with Wayne [Maxwell]. So not that I am aware of, I don’t know, ASBK is always changing the rules to allow new things so I guess the only way to know is to see if anything changes on their side of things.