32-year-old Josh Brookes took out the hotly contested British Superbike Championship in 2015 and in 2016 is making the step to World Superbike.
The same Shaun Muir managed squad that helped Brookes to the BSB Title in 2015 are also making the transition to World Superbike, and are also making the switch from Yamaha to BMW machinery for their assault on the 2016 Superbike World Championship.
You’ve always had a burning ambition to return to the world stage: you must be one satisfied person at the moment?
Yes I think it goes without saying that I want to move up and progress. I feel most comfort by returning with my existing team instead of having to start fresh with a new team that is in WSBK championship
Has it been a case of just waiting for the right WSBK offer to come your way, or were you determined to finish the job in the British superbike title first?
I’ve always been hopeful of a WSBK ride irrespective of my BSB results but to win the championship and then make the step is just that little bit sweeter
You rode WSBK and WSS in the late noughties. What’s the difference between the Josh Brookes then and the version we’ll see racing in 2016? Are you a faster rider, or is it just a maturity thing?
I won my first World championship race on my first attempt 10 years ago, so its been clear to see I have the ability to be there for many years, but receiving the right opportunity in the last decade has been harder than riding the bike itself.
In 2015 you were both ultra-fast and just so consistent, Lorenzo like. Was that the greatest satisfaction you took away from winning the world’s most competitive domestic superbike title?
In 2012 I had 100% finishing rate in BSB and on conventional points system I would have also won the championship that year, consistency has often been a strong point for me. Also in my years of racing in the UK I clocked up over 10 lap records so ultra fast has also been in my reach. I think with the arrival of Stewart Winton and Ian Lord in my team this year is what brought it all together and that’s what gives me confidence entering WSBK with the same crew.
Australia hasn’t had a consistent WSBK front-runner since, Troy Bayliss, really. Would it give you a lot of satisfaction to be the man to fill that void?
Yes of course, Troy is a sensational rider and an inspiration from what he did throughout his career. I don’t want to try and compare myself, I just want to be the best Josh Brookes can be and I don’t think much of the world has seen what that is yet.
You’re obviously not on the Yamaha anymore so how are you going to approach 2016 on a completely new machine, especially when you may not be in a position to battle for race wins from the outset?
I don’t like to predict what might or might not happen. I think the BMW is the best chance for a new team entering WSBK. The Yamaha was good for us in BSB but that championship has different rules for the spec of the bike and I think the R1 will be difficult to make the power necessary for a competitive WSBK. The BMW is already known for its superb engine performance, the Pirelli tyres I’ve been on for the last 10years, with Ohlins for 8years, and the tracks I already know. To enter WSBK with the Milwaukee BMW team is really a good situation so lets wait and see what it brings.
Saying that, you’re still in the same team so that must give you a lot of confidence?
Yes PI is a good starting point, with all the teams being European based having the first round as a fly away event means they often arrive still making the finishing touches to the bikes and in some ways are not fully prepared. This often ends with riders missing crucial track time when its most needed after the offseason. For this reason PI often delivers mixed results from the rest of the season. Hopefully my knowledge and like for the circuit plus the fan support can boost our chances.
When will you ride the S 1000 RR for the first time, and what are your expectations? You’ve obviously competed against the S 1000 RR in BSB, so you obviously know it’s no slouch.
The bike is in all BMW dealerships so anyone can get a close look at it easily. I will see my actual race bike in the middle of January when we start testing in Spain. I have watched the bike on track and I don’t feel like the true potential of the bike has been reached by anyone yet.
2016 looks like being a really big year for WSBK, with not only Milwaukee BMW a new entrant but also Nicky Hayden joining the fray and Yamaha fresh back on the scene. Does that give you just a little bit of trepidation, or simply increase the enthusiasm level?
Irrespective of who is on track and how many teams there are my approach will be the same, I just hope to maximise the potential of me and the bike. More importantly I hope that 2016 is an exciting year of racing that fans all over the world want to follow on TV and come to watch live when its in their country.
What riders impress you the most in the WSBK paddock?
I have no attitude to the other riders, everyone of them is a rival. I don’t hate them or like them…. I nothing them.
And what about the logistics? Will you continue to be based in the UK during 2016?
I have been a travelling Gypsy since I left Australia at the end of 2005, I stay where ever is nearest to the next race or where I have a friend that doesn’t mind me staying over. It’s difficult to have a base when there is so much travelling involved with racing, I imagine 2016 to be no different.
Phillip Island WorldSBK Tickets on sale
Tickets on sale for Australia’s round of the 2016 Superbike World Championship – Feb 26-28, 2016
WorldSBK riders to hit centre stage from Saturday
A Bike-Racing Bonanza with 20% more racing on the agenda
That’s the promise from the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit as they plan next February 26-28’s world superbike opener with a bumper two-wheel speed fest that delivers nearly 20 percent more racing, and for the first time, a Saturday race for the world’s premier production bike category, world superbikes.
A ticket to the supers is the perfect Christmas gift at just $115* for a three-day pass; $80* for a Sunday only pass; with kids 15 and under free**. Throw in camping for up to four nights at the circuit, and your entire super long-weekend will cost only $215* for three-day event entry and a four-night camp spot!!
In a fresh approach for February’s popular world supers, the traditional double-header Sunday format will be jettisoned in favour of one world superbike race each day, with both 22-lappers to be held at 3:00pm on February 27 and 28 respectively.
The revamped schedule means circuit goers won’t have to wait as long to get their first dose of world superbike action in 2016, and they will get to see their favourite riders — including Aussie motorcycle ace Josh Brookes, world champion Jonathan Rea and 2016’s new WorldSBK recruit Nicky Hayden — back at it the next day.
World Superbikes will still practice and qualify Friday and Saturday, but Superpole has been moved up to Saturday to run from 12.30pm prior to the 3:00pm Saturday race. Superpole will be as cut-throat as ever, with not only the aforementioned three riders in the mix but other stars such as 2014 world champion Sylvain Guintoli and his new Yamaha teammate Alex Lowes, Kawasaki’s pole supremo Tom Sykes, Ducati’s Chaz Davies, BMW rider Jordi Torres and Honda’s Michael van der Mark.
World supersport keeps its normal Sunday afternoon timeslot over 18 laps, but the popular Superpole format is also being adopted by the category. The cut-throat Superpole session will be held on Saturday from 1.30pm.
As well as the three world championship races, there will be a packed program of 12 support events over the weekend, with Australian superbike, Australian supersport and Australian 125GP/Moto 3 classes competing in three races per category (instead of the previous two for superbike and supersport) across Saturday and Sunday.
Each race is 10 laps and will also counts towards points in the opening round of the 2016 Australian Superbike and Phillip Island Championships.
The superbikes of yesteryear, historic bikes manufactured between 1973 and 1990 (aka period 5 and 6) return for 2016, and are set to pack a mean punch piloted by some of the retired greats.They’ll compete across three six-lap battles.
On-track action will begin at 8:30am on both days, and conclude at approximately 6:00pm on Saturday and 5:00pm on Sunday.
Check out www.ticketek.com.au for tickets to Australia’s 2016 FIM Motul Superbike World Championship, February 26-28, at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit with a three-day General Admission pass at $115* per adult, Sunday only 80* per adult, and kids 15 and under free**.
To make your world supers adventure super affordable, consider camping at the circuit for just $100* per person for four nights – with kids 15 and under free**, when accompanied by a paying adult.The circuit campground is situated above Southern Loop with views across the circuit to Bass Strait.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.