Features 16 Apr 2024

Conversation: Josh Hook

Multi-time EWC title winner looks ahead to Le Mans 2024 season-opener.

Part of the F.C.C. TSR Honda France line-up that won the 24 Heures Motos last year, Josh Hook is not only aiming for a repeat win in Le Mans, he’s also bidding to complete the 2024 FIM Endurance World Championship with a second EWC title in three years. Ahead of Circuit Bugatti hosting the season-opening race this weekend, 31-year-old Australian rider Hook previews the season ahead in our latest Conversation.

Image: Supplied.

As part of last year’s winning team in the 24 Heures Motos, how much of a boost does that give?

We’ve had a lot of success at this track for one reason or another. Our bike works relatively well at Le Mans and the track itself is pretty kind on the engine too so, touch wood, you don’t incur too many engine problems that can take you out of the race. I’ve won this race three times with this team and it does help going into this race knowing that we are competitive. I think the weather is going to be difficult this year but it’s all part of it and I’m looking forward to it. It’s one of my favourites.

It’s by no means an easy race due to the technical nature of the track and the drop-off in temperature during the night, right?

Yeah, there’s a lot of hard braking. What works for us is to set up a bike which is good in the braking areas so you have to use less effort in those areas. It can help you with the energy levels throughout the race and not pop you too quick. Our bike tends to work better in the night and obviously the body does too because you sweat a lot less and it’s a little bit easier physically. You’ve just got the problem of trying to stop your fingers from getting numb because you get halfway through a stint and you can’t feel your fingers! Generally the engine works better in the colder conditions, the lap times tend to come a little easier and it’s less physical. As long as we stay upright if there are tricky conditions with a little bit of rain, a little bit of dry and make the right calls in the pits when to use wets and when to use slicks, we can do very well in this race.

Last year’s race got off to an action-packed start when you and Gregg Black made contact at the Dunlop Chicane. What memories do you have of that?

Me and Gregg on the first lap was just a racing incident and these things happen. In a 24-hour race you’re bound to run into something, a bit of trouble, especially with the lapped riders you tend to come on them quite quickly in the night so it can be tricky. It keeps you on your toes so you have to stay focused at all times. It’s just part of a 24-hour race unfortunately.

Image: Supplied.

Are you fully fit after the shoulder injury that kept you out of the Suzuka 8 Hours?

I suffered quite a major injury to my shoulder and bicep but I’m back to 100 per cent fitness and the test in Okayama last December was the real test for me. I came back at Bol d’Or but I really struggled with pain. I was probably rushing it a little bit and if I went down or crashed at Bol d’Or it would not have been good for my body at that point in time because I was hanging on by a thread. But I didn’t want to let other people know what my position was at the time. We had got a good medical team and physio to try to manage the pain as much as possible, but I felt like I let the team down a bit in the end although we were fast enough in the race to be able to manage it. I didn’t really know where I was at with my body until the Okayama test but now it’s all good and now we’re 100 percent fit, we’re ready to go. I’m feeling good, the bike is unreal so I’m really looking forward to what this year has got in store for us.

What can you achieve in this season’s EWC?

I think we’re the firm favourites every year aren’t we, that’s my belief anyway! I’m sure a lot of people will disagree but that’s why I come here. For sure, we want to win and we know we’ve got the riders and the team and the machine to do so. We’re not coming here for second place, that’s for certain. We want to win championships and I believe we’re in the best possible position to do so. Every year our situation just gets better with the bike, the riders and the team. With everyone gelling so well each year we’re getting more competitive and faster.