Torqueing Heads: Talking Motorbikes

Superbike Sundays #2 (Josh Brookes)

February 28, 2021 Josh Brookes Season 2 Episode 2
Torqueing Heads: Talking Motorbikes
Superbike Sundays #2 (Josh Brookes)
Show Notes Transcript

Torqueing Heads: Superbike Sundays continues with an in-depth interview with the reigning Bennetts BSB champion, Josh Brookes - the fortified and undeniable Bennetts BSB legend: two championship titles, never finished outside of the top five overall in 11 seasons of racing and - with 54 race wins - he sits second in the all-time race win table. 

At 37-years old, he’s the ‘old man’ on the grid. But with a big no.1 on the front of this bike and the mindset of a 19-year old (his words), he is the man to beat in 2021. We caught up with Josh about:

His predictions for this year and his main rivals

How he keeps motivated to win

How he keeps calm under last round pressure

What changes have been made to the dominant Ducati V4 R

What makes Brookes and PBM such a dominant package

Which BSB season he would race in if he could travel back in time

Which new track he would like BSB to make on the calendar

His thoughts on the new qualifying, showdown and triple header format.

Josh Brookes interview (Superbike Sundays)

Luke Brackenbury: [00:00:00] What's the typical, typical winter for you? 

Josh Brookes: [00:00:12] Uh, well, yeah, my typical winter, I've never actually in the last 14 years or something. I haven't done a full winter anywhere. Um, I've managed to skip the winters and come back to Australia every off season for the Australian summer. So, um, yeah, my, my downtime, uh, is, is trying to squeeze into three or four months, uh, in Australia, what everyone else I know, uh, does in 12, you know, so kind of like, you know, the, um, the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, it's like, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. That's just like the, I, I'm just trying to squeeze as much stuff in the home um, you know, the stuff I enjoy at home and in a short period. So, uh, the, the, the long winter as you call it - off season - from my perspective goes in a flash because, uh, I'm trying to, you know, catch up with friends, um, you know, enjoy the summer, get some, uh, you know, headspace away from motorbike racing, but I ended up riding a bike of some kind, whether it be a push bike or a motorbike every day.

Um, so yeah, it's just, uh, every day is filled with, uh, some sort of activity or even work. Um, I do some service work for friends on, on motorbikes, um, from home in my workshop or, uh, I go and work for another friend's, um, construction company. I do a few days with them when they need a hand. So. It's kind of like, um, uh, people see it strange that I work in my off season, but I find it keeps you grounded.

You know, you, you keeps your feet on the ground and, you know, um, how lucky are you to race bikes you know, I would love to be as successful as the likes of, um, the top MotoGP guys. Um, you know, especially, um, salary related, but uh, when you do, you know, a day's regular work or a week's regular work, um, it reflects how lucky I am just to be able to race bikes in a way that I do.

Luke Brackenbury: [00:02:25] So it's like you lead a bit of a dual life, really. You kind of come here, let's call it for the, for the job, for the, for the BSB season, and then go back home like you say, try and live your Australian life fit a load in sounds like you find relaxation from, from working in a way that, you know, it's away from the pressures of racing, but you're still doing something it keeps you grounded. You're not just sitting around. 

Josh Brookes: [00:02:53] Yeah. As you say, exactly how, how I say it. Um, I've got, I lead two lives. It's kind of like when I leave England, I kind of put that life on hold and my Australian timer starts. And then, um, when we're on our way to the airport to fly back for the start of the season, it's like the, the Australian life, um, timer stops and, and we go back into racing mode, but, um, I'm certainly a really like active person. Like, I feel super, um, annoyed, irritated, like I'm uncomfortable if I haven't been productive in the day. Um, you know, if I, if I set my alarm and then hit snooze and accidentally sleep in, I'm kind of angry the rest of the day, because I lost those hours or whatever in the morning, it's just, it's just the nature of my character.

I want to try and be super productive and get as much stuff. Um, done, even if it's like mundane stuff or things that people think is mundane, like mowing the grass or, um, you know, or washing the car, I just want to always try and maximize the potential of, of each day and get as many jobs sort of ticked off as possible. And it can be quite exhausting at times often like fall into bed and you know, the second my eyes are closed, I'm asleep, but that's how I seem to enjoy the most. Um, if I never come out with that comment or like onboard or, um, you know, Oh, I wish today was over, you know, like you hear other people make comments like that and I think I'm counting every minute of every day to try and squeeze as much in, so. Um, it seems unjustified when you hear comments like that. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:04:35] Yeah, no, I can, I can understand. I said, get them get the most from the day. I just sort of had a vision in my mind of you, you've been super competitive at mowing the lawn though. You'll have this list for the day and trying to smash through it, like a, like a, like a race. You're about to start your 12th season in BSB, two time champion, you've never finished outside of the top five in any season - full seasons you've competed in. And with 54 wins to your name, you're the second most successful, uh, rider in terms of race wins. It's quite, it's quite a BSB CV and it's 25 years of BSB, and when you look at that, you know, you're nearly half those seasons and all those wins. I mean,'re the champ. What keeps you coming back and being so competitive? 

Josh Brookes: [00:05:25] Um, it makes me quite proud when you, when you reel it off like that. I think, um, you know, already I've, uh, achieved far more than a lot of people would have said I could, you know, when I first started out in bikes, so, um, that's, that's a driving force, you know, to, to kind of, um, prove. Well, even though it was years ago and I never had doubt in myself, it's always nice to have that opportunity to, to prove people wrong, you know, people that, that doubted what you were capable of and, and you know, what, what you're willing to push for. And, um, yeah, I mean, I, I find it hard to give a really clear answer to what, um, keeps me coming back. Uh, you know, At 37, um, a lot of people have in, in, uh, have already retired, you know, if you, if you compare to other people's careers and I think, um, for me, I still feel like a kid, you know, I don't, I don't, I don't think I ever really grew up.

Um, I don't feel really in myself, um, any different to probably how I felt at about age 19. I think that's kind of as far as I, as I grew up. And then after that, it just feels like, um, the years have passed, but I haven't changed much as a, as a person. Um, and I think that is a reason why, uh, I stay motivated I suppose. And I've still got the drive to keep going, so I don't feel. Um, old, I think more recently I've started to notice, um, physically it's a bit harder, you know um, I've not really been someone to focus on training. Um, I've kind of led, as I said, it was a busy lifestyle. But I don't, um, I don't focus specifically on, um, on my physical, uh, workout, um, program, or so maybe as I get older, I'm going to have to, you know, tailor my lifestyle more, um, to, to get the best out of an aging body, but at the moment, um, yeah, I still can, can do and run with it with all the, uh, with all the young guys coming into the class and I'm still as keen to win. I think, I think everybody always wants to win. You know, I don't think you could ask a person in any sport or, uh, even if they're not into sport, um, do you want to win? It's like, yeah, I want to win. I'd love to win. That's just whether I suppose the difference is whether you're willing to do what it takes to get the win. You know, you're willing to sacrifice time with friends, or are you willing to sacrifice weekends or are you willing if it's, let's say it's it's beer that you love, are you willing to sacrifice, drink and beer to keep your body in the best condition it can be, or keep your weight down so that you've got that advantage when it comes to racing and at the moment or up until now, at least I've been willing to make the sacrifices I feel like I need to make, to stay competitive. And whilst I can still, um, win races. I think I'm still gonna continue to want to come back. I think if I get to a point where I've given what I consider myself to be a hundred percent not what someone else thinks I've given, but once I know myself, I've given a hundred percent and that's the best I can, I can give and it's not are we able to win or not able to get podiums are not are we able to be competitive anymore. That might be the day that I changed my mindset on whether I want to continue to do it, but at the moment, um, and up until this point, it's always sort of been the same. I've always kind of looked forward to the start of the season and I've kind of enjoyed the end of  a season. And if you know, the, the finish and, and, uh, and definitely after last season to receive the rewards of success. But, um, at any point you always then look forward to the start of the next season. Um, as I currently am now, looking forward to getting going again. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:09:41] Do you think it's that kind of, I've always, always said that motorbikes keep you young because they are a bit silly. They are with a bit daft, they're toys for grownups in a way. And you all live in this dual life. Do you think that's what, like you said, you feel like you're, you're 19, you know, you're. You know, you, you come back in the off season, back to home to Australia, then you go to work and it's, you know, do you think that's, what's, you know, you're, you are in the joys that way you don't get bored at the winning feeling. You come back fresh, you know, like you said, you just notice it may be in your body a little bit, but the mentality means that you're still stuck you know, you're one of the senior, senior guys out there on the grid now, but from results it doesn't show it that way... 

Josh Brookes: [00:10:25] Yeah, I think, um, a common saying is if, if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. And that's how I feel with motorbikes. Certainly there's days that are different. Difficult. Um, and certainly there's a preparation that, that, that becomes irritating and, you know, travel and different things as sure as little elements that kind of wear you down at times, but in the grand scheme of things, um, I, I love going to the race track.

I love, um, you know, working with the, with the crew to get the bike set up. Um, I like the, the technical side of the racing, uh, of the, of the bike and, and the, and the racing, you know, every, every element of what I'm doing at the moment I kind of  enjoy. And that's why it doesn't feel like a job that's never racing.

And I I've purposely never tried to, um, put racing in a job category. Unfortunately, the nature of life is you've got to draw income from somewhere to pay the bills. Of course. So it's, it's been, uh, a job title, but, um, but in my head and all the way I see my racing, I've never tried to, I've always tried to avoid putting it in a job category. And the fact that every element of the racing has been enjoyable for me, it's never become a chore. It's always been that hobby that's become a profession. And I think that's, that also is a contribution. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:12:00] So you coming into your third season with PBM obviously as reigning champion. Third, third day on the bike. I mean, is the change coming into the, you know, is there much of a change coming into this year or preparation as have you asked the team for a load of changes to the bike? I mean, we've seen that before our come in and dominate, obviously it doesn't ride itself. You guys just missed out in 2019, you know, amazing season last year.

So what, what, how are you changing coming into this season and, or is it same prep as always? 

Josh Brookes: [00:12:33] Um, it's very, I mean, in, in the lead-up to the season, my preps very much the same as before, you know, I just trying to, um, maintain fitness and, um, you know, by riding motorcross and cycling and mountain biking and just keeping all your reflexes up to, up to speed that um, so, you know, when you, when the day does come to get back on the bike, I don't feel like I'm a bit, you know, of course it's going to be a few days where I feel a bit rusty, but you know, I'm doing as many things as I can to stay sharp. Um, but, you know, from the team's perspective, uh, I haven't requested, um, big changes or anything like that.

Um, certainly during the year we have to, um, you know, seek out where our weaknesses are. Um, and. You know, some, some things we come up with and, and, and areas we see at a certain track, it might not be possible, um, to be the best bike and team and ride a package in that corner or at that track, but at least if we recognise that there's a weakness, it's something that we can work on and minimize how much, um, you know, damage that event can do or how much damage that sector of the track, um, can do to our, our performance.

So we're always looking, I mean, that's, my job is to find the weakest link and, and complain about the thing that's stopping us from going quicker. Um, so that, that, that never stops. That's always a, an endless, um, target is to, is to keep improving. Um, so yeah, there's little, there's little areas that where we need to continue to try and improve, but I've not kind of gone into the off season with a list of demands that, um, that I think, you know, that the team needs to improve.

Otherwise, you know, we're really going to struggle in the, in the next year. It's kind of more marginal gains. You know, if we, you know, when you're at the top, it's very difficult to make any big steps. Um, the closer you get to the, to the, um, you know, the peak time, um, the, the more fine tuning that it becomes.

So. Um, as having won the championship last year, and as you said, um, going so close the year before, uh, it, it, it does it, wouldn't say natural to think ah I've got a list of all these problems. It can't have been that bad if, if it was going well. So, um, now I think, I think we've got a, um, a good package with the team. I think, you know, obviously the bikes working well in the championship. Um, I certainly feel very comfortable with the team. I've got a really good crew or I think is a really good crew. Um, and I probably, I could comfortably say I'm the most comfortable I've been in racing. Um, because I know uh, and that's, uh, that's because of the, the team, the environment the team have put, you know, I don't, I don't need to, um, uh, you know, explain to them how important it is to go testing. And I don't need to say we really need to make the bike better in, you know, we're all, we're all wanting success equally. So, um, we're in the past often, um, Uh, I've had situations where the teams kind of like put a lot of emphasis on, on me as the rider to make the difference. And sure I would like to be able to do that.

I would love to be that superhuman that could hop on any bike and just I'm the magical portion that just brings the bike up to the leading position. But, um, that that's not reality. Reality is it's it's everybody in the team is to work together and it needs to be. You know, uh, I I'm, I'm saying things that people have heard for years, but it's that team environment and it's everybody pulling their weight equally, that makes that successful.

So, um, I feel like I've, I've got that. Whereas in the past I felt like I was sometimes pushing the stuff that people didn't think was, um, I'm trying to think of any example, let's say, um, Uh, I'll just pick something out, out in the air, but let's say that the brakes, the brakes were an area that I wasn't pleased with.

And I was saying, Oh, look, this is, this is where we need to make a change. I feel like I'm losing ground on the brakes. Can maybe we look into another brake supplier, or can we go testing the brakes? If the people in the team don't believe that that's the biggest problem, you're going to find it really hard to get them to, you know, work with you and make a change where, um, at PBM, I feel like I'm not, um, so much against that kind of resistance.

It feels like. Um, on that my most comfortable, because if I was to bring up a problem, then the guys just believe that that's the problem. And, um, they may go to the computer and check some statistics of how the bikes work and to confirm that it's not, um, you know, another, there's not other elements, but you know, at least they're taking the information I'm giving on board and they're moving to try and create a solution to that problem. And that just gives me, um, you know, peace of mind. Uh, and it gives me, you know, um, confidence and stuff in the people that I'm working with. And then ultimately, um, with, with my, my riding, my feedback and, and the quality of the team and the mechanics it's created success. So, um, you know, whilst everything's gone good, it's, it's um, it's not normal to find reasons to complain. Yeah. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:18:24] So yeah, like it's that trust and confidence is it's a team that knows how to win. You want to win that, that's why they go racing. It's why you go racing. So, that's great that you've got that consistency. Probably not great for everyone else on the field this year, but I mean, you talked about obviously at the top, there's not huge changes to make. I mean, has there been many changes to the bike and the two, two seasons you've been on it? 

Josh Brookes: [00:18:48] Yeah, because, um, there's outside elements and factors that change. So I'm a big, um, area of conversation last year was the, which the change of the tyre, um, configuration, you know, it's still the Pirelli tyres. It's still the same compound of rubber that we're, you know, we've probably raced on for years, but, um, certain elements of the, of the shape and the size of the tyre. Um, was updated. Um,by Pirelli, and I assume with the best interests at heart, whether it's, um, more, uh, endurance from the tyre so it keeps consistent laptimes or whether it's a, to make the tyre perform to a higher standard so we, um, we'd reach, uh, a lap record pace at every circuit, you know, I'm sure the people at Pirelli, um, love to, after a race weekend to put in their press release that they've set another new lap record in every circuit. So every, uh, is always striving to, to achieve, um, their best or improve their, their personal best.

Um, but as a result of that, that's an outside um, element that we've all had to then adjust to suit. So, you know, at the end of 2019, I felt like I had, uh, you know, the perfect combination with bike and, and, and settings comp, uh, you know, we could go into 2020, uh, without making any changes, but because the tyre, um, size has changed, um, unfortunately for me, um, we had to then go and, uh, re-evaluate all our settings for different tracks and it took quite a few races for, um, us to really find the right direction and I felt like, um, it kind of plagued us a bit because we'd had so much success the year before you kind of always revert back to what you know works. But when you change one element, you know, if you, if you think about it like a, a mathematical equation, you've only got to change one element in, in that, uh, that equation to get a different answer at the end, you know?

So we would kind of reverse engineer where you had what we thought was going to be the answer that we couldn't understand why it, it, it wasn't, it wasn't working in the same way it had the year before. So we had to accept that, you know, an outside element had changed and um, you know, I don't know of any big changes for this coming season, but things do change, you know, also, um, you know, we change, uh, exhaust manufacturers, um, from 19 to 20, um, that possibly made the engine perform better.

Um, then we also got, um, a change of, uh, I think camshafts, um, spec was changed obviously with performance in mind. Exactly how many horsepower, uh, that change was I don't know, but you know, there, there's lots of, um, maybe what you call small changes that, uh, again, for the best interest of performance, but you got to also remember that that may have, um, a carry over effect.

I remember, you know, when I very first started racing, um, I had a, 125 in the GP class and, um, every time we made more horsepower or we got a new part to the bike to, um, to make more horsepower than handling when went bad. And, you know, as a first time in racing, I, I, I couldn't understand. I was like just when I had the handling really working really well. We'd um, you know, we'd get an airbox or a cylinder head upgrade. And, you know, as, as I could afford things with, you know, it was a family funded, uh, operation. So as, as the rounds went on, we got, we've got more parts as we could afford it. Um, every time we made, the bike perform better power-wise it went the other way with, with handling and it was, um, it was a really good lesson, very early on that, um, you know, sometimes, you know, you're always in search of, uh, of more horsepower, but there's always a, um, an adverse effect uh, when you, when you do get it

Luke Brackenbury: [00:23:06] Speaking of changes, the big chang. Probably for, not from a, from a bike point of view but to the championship itself, the qualifying structure, the showdown, how many people go through to that, and of course, the amount of, of races in a weekend. I mean, does that bother you at all or are you were just like, that's the way it is and I'll just crack on?

Josh Brookes: [00:23:27] Yeah. I mean, you have to, you have to, I mean, what, what one person gonna, you're just going to stand there and jump around and shout how you don't like some new rule change. But I think the, you know, the biggest, uh, change, you know, if my memory is right, I think it was 2010 when they changed, or maybe it was later when they changed to the, to the showdown, um, design, um, you know, that, that was quite a big, um, change, but ultimately my duty and my job is to go and try and win races. And if I win enough, often enough, I'll win the championship. And that's the, that's the desired goal. So, um, whilst the, the way that the rules are set out, um, may, may change really what I'm trying to do and what I'm trying to get out of what I'm doing remains the same, you know, each weekend I've got a target to try and, you know, Uh, win the races, and if I can't win the race, I have to try and evaluate whether second, you know, or a third, or even a fifth or whatever, you know what I mean, I have to make that my mind up on that day, whether, um, you know, the calculation is push harder and maybe fall or, or consolidate and take the position. And, um, ultimately that, that those, all those decisions are based on whether, you know, I can win the championship or how does this affect my points in the championship.

So, Um, yeah, I really think that the best way for me to think about it is that that my goal is to try and win races and win the championship and regardless of the structure, the way the points are gathered or... it's irrelevant, you know, my, my, the way I'm going to do things is going to maintain the same. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:25:14] I was thinking, um, the way you sort of, you go about your season and you always seem to finish really strong, last two seasons at brands hatch and I think in 2015 as well. You did the triple there, is that in a case of you just building that momentum through the year and or... intense pressure, and I've been at the last two finals, I've been to plenty of finals and I'm nervous and you've gone out and won every race,  obviously because you have to, is that, is that because you work really well under pressure, you just love Brands Hatch GP as a track, or the momentum and confidence you've carried through the year just means that you're a professional racer, that's what you're there to do is just looking at the stats before, before we talked thinking, wow.

You know, how do you, under that pressure, just absolutely smash it at the last round?

Josh Brookes: [00:26:10] Yeah, I think it's the combination of all those things that you've just mentioned. Uh, I, I personally don't want to only perform under pressure, but, um, history would suggest that I seem to do like, uh, it's like when, when things are building up against me, then that's when I kind of, I don't know, maybe it's a subconscious thing. I can't bring it to, you know, my, my conscious mind to, to do it differently. But when that pressure, um, builds up and I just seem to then find the best of within myself, but I think also, maybe going a bit deeper, um, I think as a person, I'm quite calculated, uh, I think, you know, in the beginning of my career in BSB, when I kind of got labeled as this sort of like brain out reckless rider, um, which just the way I was being kind of viewed and portrayed let's say, um, that caught a cut quite deep, because I knew personally that that wasn't an accurate description of how I go about things.

And uh, I think that I kind of, uh, I feel like, and I think that's probably why I've gone well to a degree at the, at the Isle of Man is because I feel like I don't take on unnecessary risks, uh, at the start of the season when I don't feel, um, let's say whether it's the start of the lap or the start of the race or the start of the season at any time, um, when I'm not confident that um, but I know everything's going to go well, right. I kind of take a reserved approach, um, and try and find the, the safest and most calculated way of, of dealing and improving things. And then as the race goes on, or as the season goes on and the championship um,I refine all the, you know, the weak links and get the bike working better and improve my skills or whatever, or get more in tune with how the tyres work.

And as the season gets on, I seem to, you know, um, filter out all the noise and get right down to the, the most important elements and, and fine tune myself to find the, the, the peak of, of, of all of those combinations. And then my results start to come stronger. Not because maybe I couldn't do it at the start, but because, um, I was being more calculated at start. Whereas at the end, you know, I'm able to take a bigger risk and not make that fall or, um, or, or make that pass stick, you know, whereas if, um, how do I, how do I just try to immediately early in the season start of the race. Um, it may have gone wrong. So I think, um, that that's got to be, you know, that's my, um, analysis of how I feel it is in my head.

I mean, maybe, you know, if you asked another person, they might have a different perspective, but that's how I feel that it goes. Um, at least that's how it feels emotionally to me as the weeks go on as the rounds and the year goes on, I feel like uh, working with the team, I can, um, refine the bike and, you know, it's, it's you know, when, when and where it comes, kind of cause I over analyse some things because when I get to the end of the year and I'll see how well we're going and how good the lap time is, I then start to go, well, where were we at around two or three or four, you know? And I try to start thinking of going back and work out where, um, the performance was lacking early in the year.

And sometimes there isn't any evidence to say that the bike was different or that I was doing? Um, well, we were operating as a team differently. It was just that I was riding more conservative at the start. And now at the end of the year, where um, I've become so much more intuned and ingrained with the bike and it's, we're operating as, as one rather than me kind of just hanging on for grim death. You know, it's just, um, at the end of the year I feel like I've become as one unit with the bike, and I can take it to a level which is, you know, have a higher standard every lap and, and get more out of it. And, um, that's that's as a result of the progress of the year. And, um, so then if you go back to this and look at the data that's from the bike earlier in the year, it actually isn't that much different sometimes.

Luke Brackenbury: [00:30:56] Yeah. It's psychological because I was looking, you know, looking for the history. I think my, you got 17 wins at Brands Hatch GP. So I'm thinking just Josh, just go to the last round going, me and Brands Hatch, you know, we click, or are there any other circuits on the calendar where you, where you have that extra confidence or you're really excited about?

Josh Brookes: [00:31:19] Yeah, like, I'll let you in on, on something, like some races I can't remember exactly where it is, but, um, I definitely remember the moments where I've actually said to myself, Um, during the, during the race, if this race and, you know, say it, and it's normally when the performance is low, so say I'm in, eighth position and I'm struggling and it just doesn't seem to click and I actually say to myself, if this was the last race of the year, and all I had to do was beat that seventh place guy to win the championship, could you do it? You know what I mean? I'll ask myself that question, you know, like, because it's not the last race of the year and it's, it's, it's a, it's a, mid-year race and it's not the championship doesn't depend purely on that race. I then start to analyse myself and I think is there something I could do better is my mental position thinking that this race isn't important enough to push more. So then, so then I ask myself if this was that race, could you do better? And sometimes the answer is no. In fact, every time the answer has been no I've ridden and I've actually thought myself, imagine this race is the championship decider and all I've got to do is get from eighth to seventh and that'll, that'll decide the championship. And sometimes I haven't been able to do it, you know, I've tried and tried and, and, you know, I've, I've kind of tried to reach that and find a way to unleash that potential that I know I have, sometimes it just isn't there, you know? And that's when I have to sort of think, well, there's something not, not right with the bike, we're missing, we're missing something. Or, you know, it might not even be so critical, let's say that we haven't found the bike to be in the right position, but maybe just you know, with the, with that race condition, with it being, you know, inclement weather or, you know, there's, there's an outside element that's moved our potential away from winning. And you just have to go look on today's conditions it's unrealistic to think you can, you can be fastest every time, but, um, to, to be back to your initial question, um, there's you know, like Oulton Park used to be a track I didn't really enjoy, uh, going to, but, um, since I've been on the Ducati I've, I've really looked forward to Oulton for some reason. I don't know if it's the way the bike works or, yeah, it must be, I mean, the it suggests in itself that, that the bike must work particularly well on that circuit for me to, to have said, um, that made that statement.

So, uh, but then, you know, from, from when I wrote a Honda through Yamaha, Suzuki, you know, all the bikes and now with the Ducati, um, I look forward to Thruxton, you know, it's not a track that kind of probably comes up on everybody's list as, as their favorite track to go to. But for some reason, I just really enjoy going there.

The track's, um, may exciting. Even to the point where it should be the negative, but I kind of enjoy the challenge of making the bike work over the race distance, even when it doesn't work in my favour, you know, there's been a few times when I've kind of been curved of how, um, damaging is to the, to the performance of the tyre during the race, but having said that I still enjoyed that challenge. You know, the, the challenge was there and that, it's kind of more like a it's like I refer to it like, like a chess game, you kind of throughout the race, you kind of, it's, it's an unraveling a story, um, where some there's other tracks you go to and other, other, other rounds you go to, and it's almost like, you know, you, you, the result of the race before it even begins, you know, you can, you can almost tell by qualifying um, you know, order what who's going to do well and who who's not going to be, um, a rival this  weekend. Where Thruxton sort of, um, you know, someone who is like eight or ninth on the grid could in qualifying could then come to challenge, you know, almost definitely be a podium contender. So there's so many little kind of, um, personal enjoyments that I get from Thruxton that makes that track, um, a particular favorite of mine, but definitely, I mean, for sure with all the success I've had, um, at Brands, uh, suggests that I like that track. And I do, I do look forward to it's quite a technical track. I think I used to say, I used to have this theory that because the surface was old um, maybe, um, the grip is a little bit more difficult to find, and there's a few corners that are kind of, um, technical with like a blind, um, crests and things like that. I was trying to find reasons for why, um, Brands would would stick out for me as a good circuit why I look forward to going there. But in recent years they've done surface upgrades and it and so you can't say that it's an old surface and that's, that's a determining factor because it isn't that anymore, you know? So I don't know. It just, um, Thruxton sticks out, you know, and in, in another way, people always assume Cadwell is my favorite track. I don't, I don't know why, just because of the jump and all the um, you know, the hype around that, you know, some of the photos and videos that have, that have gone around of me at Cadwell, that just sort of resonates with people and they just make my mind up for me that that's, that must be my favourite track. Um, they're often they're often quite shocked when I say no, I don't really love the track.

I love the jump, but I don't, I don't love the whole track as a, as, as a circuit to go to every time. But as a general rule, um, all the tracks are equally important. So, um, you know, that it's the same number of points available for a win, regardless of which track you go to. So, um, as a person that kind of overanalyses things, I kind of try not to get into a mindset where I don't like this track and I'm not looking forward to going there.

I kind of, I want to approach and appreciate, you know, um, mentally prepare for every track as in this is 25 points for a win, and I've got to try and go for them. All of them. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:37:54] Couple of fantasy questions for you now; so if Stuart Higgs could take the BSB championship to any racetrack in the world, outside of the ones we go to, where would you like him to do a round?

Josh Brookes: [00:38:06] Um, well, Eastern Creek would be a good option. I remember for years when I was racing Australian Superbike championship, um, it was one of my favorite tracks and it's the closest one to my house. So it's like about 35-40 minutes give or take and the traffic conditions. Um, yeah, about 40 minutes drive from my house.

So. But, um, it's completely unrealistic. It would never, um, come on come onto the calendar, but, you know, if, uh, if you could maybe wave a magic wand, it would be great. Um, you know, of course, um, it's fantastic how many, um, as an Australian rider in the British championship, I feel really grateful for how much support I get from the, from the British crowd.

But, um, it would be nice, just, uh, again, a pipe dream just to be able to race one day in front of, you know, the home crowd. In fact, it's, it's a, it's a great shame that, um, that people in Australia, um, don't know much about my success because unfortunately, um, Australia motorcycle press is quite, uh, quite a low standard from my, my opinion, um, so that they don't cover the British championship um, as good as I think they should consider an how high the standard of quality of racing there is. Um, they don't really understand the spec of the motorbikes we race on. They don't understand how, how good the racing is. Um, they don't understand the historic nature of the circuits and how passionate the crowds are and how you can still get, you know, probably 25,000 people at Knockhill on a rainy day.

It's just, yeah. I mean, it's just a great shame that Australian people don't recognise or haven't had an opportunity at least to recognise how good quality the British championship is. So if there was sort of like, um, yeah, like I said, that magic wand, if we could bring and showcase how good the British championship is, um, just for one day in Australia then, um, it would, it would be unreal, you know, it's, um, it's, it's, it's kind of like one of those, um, niggling things to me that, that people, how many questions I get often about my racing and how little people know in Australia about the British championship.

Luke Brackenbury: [00:40:39] Okay. Maybe that's a retirement plan, then become a given editor and put the focus on it. Just thinking about Eastern Creek, I rode it 2004 on an R1 launch and that first that's so fast. Everytime I went through it, I thought I need to be a lot faster. You know, it just every time coming up to it... what a track. 

Josh Brookes: [00:41:04] Yeah. And and honestly, I don't think it matters, um, what level, uh, you get to as a rider, I think that first corner that you're talking about, it still has the same effect every time. Um, whether you, whether you're leading a race at the Australian championship level, or as you said, as a, as a journalist or whatever, um, position you hold uh, it, it still holds up same effect at any speed. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:41:30] That's good to know, that's good to know. Cause I was like, damn it, I could've been better. Um, and sort of, again, another sort of a fantasy question really, the championships 25 years old this year, if you could go back in time and ride for any team, any bike, any season in the championship history, which one would you go to and why? 

Josh Brookes: [00:41:57] I wish you'd given me some time for on that question. Um, I think I would like to, um, I would like to race the year that Troy Bayliss came in and won the championship. Um, Troy's. Yeah. Okay. So it was '98, you've answered that for me, um, Troy's been kind of like, um, I haven't, I haven't followed him like a hero, but as an example, he's kind of been that Australian hero setting the path for what's possible, um, for, for other races from Australia to, to try and follow and is quite inspirational um, how he got his ride in world championship, you know, he was the, um, riding for Ducati in the UK and then Foggy got injured and that was the moment the stepping stone opportunity for him to step up into the factory ride. And, you know, he became multiple world champion. So, you know, that, that story on its own is sort of, kind of inspiration.

It gives people hope, you know, even if you haven't kind of, um, achieved the success in a way that maybe you planned out in your head, um, stories like that kind of, um, keep the flame lit to think, well, there's always a chance that something might pop up and it might be at someone else's misfortune, but you know, you kind of keep your head down and keep trying, because that could happen.

And because he had so much success, um, I'd love to, um, yardstick against him. You know what I mean? I'd like to be at my best on my best day um, on the same bike as him on his best day. And obviously with so much years of racing, um, in British Superbike championship, uh, the experience I've got best is on, on British tracks so, you know, it makes sense if there was ever a chance that I could kind of, um, battle with him, it would be under those circumstances. So, uh, that would be, I think, quite, quite an ideal, um, scenario. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:44:08] If you, if you could ever get the chance to watch that season, it was really weird because he didn't know all the traditional lines and he was making passes on people that, that no one did because he had no knowledge of the tracks.

He just made them work. And it just sort of, it was, it was a great season I can say. And this really set him on, set him onto the global, global stardom. You go into the 2021 season as favourite; the number one rider, same team, same bike. But who do you see as being your biggest rival? 

Josh Brookes: [00:44:41] Uh, I think, uh, Christian's gotta be up there as the main rival because, you know, obviously we're on the same equipment, same, same bike. We're, uh, you know, Christian's going to be racing in his second year. So, you know, uh, under any circumstances, it's always, you've seem to find, um, better performance in you in your second year, uh, so, uh, I think, um, yeah, he's going to be potentially the main rival, uh, um, it's kind of fairly obvious, uh, you know, to say Jason, as he got second in the championship last year, it's easy to just look at the, you know, the results table and go, or who was the next place guy.

But I even said Jason, at the start of last year when, um, you know, the year before showed really good speed at different tracks and then kind of had a lot of bad luck spread through the season. So I knew if he could kind of, um, you know, get a bit more kind of, let's say luck on his side that I knew that his potential, um, was certainly going to be high.

I think, um, as I think as Taz, um, kind of, I mean he's been in superbike for a few years now, I keep thinking of him as sort of like the young guy that's sort of just sort of merging in, but he has actually been in the superbikes for a few seasons now. But I think, um, if he can kind of get maybe a bit more consistency because certainly, um, you know, if you're selected just a couple of races to, um, gauge his performance, then it's, it's been superb. So I think, um, yeah, if again, if he can kind of gain a bit more consistency than he had certainly become, um, a bigger, a bigger title threat. Um, I could then go on and speak about every rider on the grid nearly and, and,  and recognise where their strengths are and maybe where they could then become a title threat.

Um, but you know, that's, it, it will be too long winded, but, um, yeah, I think, yeah, that's, that's sort of like the, the kind of least depth, what version of, uh, of who I think that the, that the challenge is going to come from. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:47:05] Perfect. Josh, thank you very much for your time. Good luck in the new season.

Congratulations again on the 2020 season, we look forward to seeing you on the grid for the first round. 

Josh Brookes: [00:47:16] Yeah, I'm certainly, uh, looking forward to, to get back on the bike, uh, and you know, it would be great to be back in front of, um, the, the fans again, you know, like if, if there's one thing that I could do, um, Uh, whilst in racing, in Brithsh Superbikes is, is be a part of um, the biggest fan, uh, number of fans to enter Brands Hatch final round, um, in history, you know, that would be a huge, um, you know, achievement in, in my career, you know, uh, You know, I mentioned how great it would be if Australia knew more, um, about the British championship and, and how good it is. But, you know, if, if, uh, obviously that's not very, uh, an achievable goal, but you know, if the crowds are allowed back into racing and, um, you know, all this time away from the track has given them more desire to, to come back in bigger numbers and greater force. And, um, then hopefully that's the silver lining of this, uh, this virus, um, and lockdown circumstances, and, you know, let's hope that the, the, the championship comes, so we'll, we'll follow up that we, we do create, um, record attendance of the final round and, you know, to be a part of that would be, would be unreal. You know, it's already great riding into, um, you know, Paddock Hill Bend, or even Clearways out from sort of like the woodland area into Clearways is great when it's, when it's full of people. So, you know, if we knew we had achieved somehow the, the record number of attendance, then if I was part of that would be, would be unreal. So, um, you know, at least, uh, you know, I'm looking forward to seeing the crowds come back this year 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:49:13] Perfect. I've been enjoying your, your random acts of kindness as well know, you've been doing that in the off season. Something was teased on, on Instagram yesterday. What was... 

Josh Brookes: [00:49:24] yeah, that's right. Um, it was such a, you know, you sometimes feel kind of, especially for me being in Australia, I'm kind of, um, isolated from the you know, the, the lockdowns that the UK has been going through. So I kind of feel a little bit spoiled, um, with, with my time.

And especially that, you know, I'm not suffering even just the fact that it's not cold and rainy here. So, you know, you often spend time thinking, you know, what could I do that's going to make any difference. You know, I can't change the pandemic. I can't change the weather, but you know, you think, well, actually I can, you know, it's not for everybody but maybe for a couple of people, um, I can make a difference and uh, you know, it was, it was such, um, well, so well received. It was, it was even, you know, far out exceeded what I expected to, to see from, um, from, from that idea. And as a result, we thought, well, you know, this is something that we can do again, you know, um, we're working with a few you know, my, my personal sponsors and people like that, um, got material that they, they can sometimes give away to the crowd. And, um, I think that this, I think the sponsors have actually enjoyed that it's not always just like, Hey, is there something more I can have? Or, um, you know, can I get more of these please?

Or more of those it's actually asking for something to then give away to somebody else. Um, has been kind of like, uh, you know, it's been well received by people, so, um, but yeah, we'll try and we'll try and do it again. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:51:09] No. Good on you. It's there, it's been, it's been a long, long, long winter for the UK, for those people, so we're seeing our way out of it now so certainly looking forward to... that's why we're recording these episodes, trying to get excited about being at racetracks again, seeing the action and, uh, yeah, I think, I think your prediction about biggest crowd at Brands Hatch, you know, you know, I think that's possible this year. We, we all want to get out.

Josh Brookes: [00:51:35] Yeah, I really hope so. I mean, again, I feel, um, you know, distance from, from exactly what everyone in the UK has been going through, but, um, I think the most important thing now is to have a target, you know, something that we can look forward to, you know, that's what kind of. Um, keeps me going through the off season. You know, when the, when you know, um, you're feeling a little bit tired or a bit run down, you don't want to do that, you know, that bike or bike ride or you're, you know, you kind of want to take the street that takes you home a bit quickly. You kind of, you, you carry on a bit further on, because you've got that target of the opening round, then you kind of want to do a bit more than maybe a competition is doing so.

Um, I think that the key is to have that target. So let's hope that the now, um, you know, the, the targets clear and front end, that things are getting better going forward. Yeah. It's focused on that. 

Luke Brackenbury: [00:52:26] Definitely. Brilliant, Josh thanks for your time. Really appreciate you, you've given up your time and, uh, we'll look forward to seeing you again soon.

Josh Brookes: [00:52:36] Not a problem, I'll see you again soon.

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