Josh Brookes, who turns 39 tomorrow, April 28, will return to where he made his pure road racing debut nine years ago, around the streets surrounding Coleraine as part of the fabled NorthWest 200 Road Races.
Josh Brookes first raced the ‘roads’ in 2013 at the North West while riding for Tyco Suzuki and the following he year he finished second to Michael Dunlop at the North West riding a Milwaukee Yamaha.
In 2014 Josh Brookes also became the fastest ever rider at the North West 200 with an average lap speed of 122.958 mph. That record was narrowly beaten by Michael Dunlop on a BMW in 2016 but Brookes is still second on the all-time fastest lap board at the North West 200. So while he might be no ‘pure road racer’ so to speak, he does have some serious runs on the board…
Brookes also contested the Isle of Man TT with Suzuki in 2013 and Yamaha in 2014, before a few year hiatus from the roads. He returned in 2017 for Norton where he rode to a brilliant sixth place finish in the Senior TT and backed that up for Norton with fifth the following year.
Josh has also competed at the Classic TT, including a win in 2017 in the Senior Classic TT on a Paton but he has been absent from the ‘roads’ since 2018, primarily due to contract restrictions regarding which motorcycles he is allowed to ride.
Brookes has been keen to return to the roads but before now the planets have not aligned for the two-time British Superbike Champion.
“Before the season started the roads were not an option for me, not because I didn’t want to do them but because of finances.” the Australian explained as he prepares to follow in the wheel tracks of Glenn Irwin who has taken three of his last four Superbike race wins on a PBM Ducati. “I’ve been there before and came very near to winning.” Brookes said. “I think I am absolutely a contender for a Superbike race win at the North West 200. The bike has the calibre to win and we have an equal chance as anyone else on the grid.”
Michael Dunlop was to ride for the same Paul Bird managed team that Brookes contests the British Superbike Championship with, as Dunlop was to represent the team at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT. The notoriously difficult to manage Dunlop though this week announced that he will not race for the team, and that has allowed Brookes to step into that frame and fulfill his desire of racing the Ducati V4 RR on the roads.
Brookes has little time to prepare himself for the North West challenge as race week is less than two weeks away, with proceedings kicking off on May 8 through May 14.
NW200 race boss, Mervyn Whyte was delighted to secure the 11th hour PBM Ducati deal. “I have been trying to get Josh back to the North West for a few years now and it is great news that him and the PBM Ducati team will be on the grid this year.” Whyte said. “I also spoke to Michael Dunlop yesterday and he has assured me that he will also be on the grid in two weeks time. That is great news for every road racing fan who wants to see the best road racers on the best bikes battling it out on the north coast.”
The Isle of Man TT gets underway two weeks later, from May 28 through June 11. The BSB calendar has a race at Oulton Park on the weekend of May 2 and another at Donington on the weekend of May 22, so it is doable. However at this stage Brookes’ name has only been linked to the NW200 and there has, as yet, been no mention of him fronting the starter at the Isle of Man TT.
As for Dunlop, he is widely rumoured to rekindle his relationship with BMW for the road race season but earlier this week told NewsLetter he is without a Superbike for the North West 200.
“It turned into a bit of a nightmare,” said Dunlop. “Stuff hasn’t arrived, testing has fallen apart and a lot of my sponsors have been let down a bit. We should have been testing last week and it hasn’t happened, so I thought, ‘you know what, I’m too old in the tooth for this’. Racing against these lads that are full-time professionals riding bikes day-in, day-out, and they want me to rock up at the first race and that be the first time I sat on it – it’s just not practical.”
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