02 July 2014
Metzeler rider Josh Brookes talks about his 2014 TT experience
Aussie Josh Brookes is loving the road racing side to his career; this year he has competed in the International North West 200 and Isle of Man TT races. He vows to return to both in 2015, where an Isle of Man TT podium and a North West 200 victory are on his to-do-list.
Josh had a successful month on the roads with two podiums at the North West 200, followed by a 10th place in the Superbike TT, seventh in the blue riband Senior TT and an improved personal best lap time of 129.859mph in only his second year of competition on the Island.
The 31-year-old New South Wales based rider was also lying fifth in Supersport race two, but due to circumstances beyond his control, his race ended somewhat prematurely on the final lap after an incident involving Lee Johnston.
Brookes had this to say about the TT:
“I knew I’d be competitive and I pretty much did everything I set out to do. The first couple of laps this year I felt like a complete amateur again on the TT circuit and last year felt such a long time away; it was filed in the back of my mind. It’s a hard place to get up to speed at, especially when it’s only your second year and I didn’t have that early confidence in myself.”
On those early laps and getting up to speed…
“Yes, I could have gone quicker straight away, but the sense of self-preservation is too strong and you question yourself. Even though you are fully confident that you know where you are going and what is round the next corner, it just takes a few laps to build it up again.
“My brain was going, ‘keep the throttle open, you know the next corner goes around to the right!’ but my eyes were telling me, ‘slow down and just be careful!’ It’s a cat and mouse game in your mind and all about getting your head back up to those high speeds for long periods.”
Improving rider and machine…
“Once you do that you still haven’t pushed your motorbike; then when you get up to the ‘one-twenty-fives’ [125mph] you start to look at the bike and look to change things. It’s okay getting yourself to improve, but you also have to improve the motorcycle to go faster. It’s not rocket science or a big dramatic storyline – it’s just logical.”
The three-step plan…
“You just get there, get your mind into the TT , then adjust your bike to suit your feeling; that’s basically it. That would be the same no matter what bike you ride. Even if you come with the same bike as the previous year, you eventually have to adjust it to try and better the lap times you are doing.”
The Supersport fifth place that wasn’t to be and the footrest drama…
“We have to ignore the crash as it was out of my control. I was running a solid fifth. In the first race yes, the footrest fell off and the conditions were dodgy and I didn’t know what to expect, but that part was just down to inexperience. The first lap I was too cautious, but I was up and down a lot as my foot peg was rolling and I didn’t know if it was oil. I kept looking down and couldn’t see anything; then it fell off before the end of the lap.
“It’s just unlucky and no-one is to blame. If it had been someone like Michael [Dunlop] coming in with a broken foot peg, he’d have been wanting to kill dead things, as he’d have been in contention for the win. But I just thought, ‘well it’s the TT and sh*t happens’.”
Lee Johnston and that crash…
“I hold no grudges with Lee. He held his hands up and was all apologetic. Yes I was pissed that he’d taken me out when I had fifth place sewn up, but that’s the way it goes.”
“The way I see it, is I improved on last year without having to really put myself out there, as if I’m honest, I was scared about what could happen if I put myself on the line too much. I don’t feel negative when I’m riding the TT – not at all – it’s more off the bike when you think about it.”
“The general atmosphere around the paddock and people’s concern for your wellbeing makes you think about it more. It’s nice that people care, but they are a bit like being a passenger in a car and worrying what the driver is doing all the time, which then trickles on to you as a rider.
“When I’m riding I know I’ve got loads in reserve and when I feel the roads wet or a bit slippery, I’m being more cautious and taking the corners slower and I’m comfortable. The build-up to races seems to get you more worried than anything. Then when you set off, you ask yourself, ‘what are you worried about?’
“It’s just me on a motorbike on tarmac with corners and I know I’m in control, but all that paddock tension can really rub off on you.
“It doesn’t affect me on the bike, as I knew what to expect before I started racing the roads and before I went to the TT. I’ve thought about it all before and incidents like David Jefferies’ crash years ago. That’s the sort of thing that sticks in my mind.
“However, then more positively, I look at John McGuinness and how long he’s been riding at the top of his game there. He doesn’t take unnecessary risks and has won 21 TTs, so I believe if I take that same calculated approach as John does, then I should be safe as well. Well as safe as you can be.”
“I’d like to think there would be a third year at the TT. The first year I was just keen to try it and it was down to curiosity really. The second year comes because you enjoyed the thrill and the excitement. It’s like a kind of drug that you want to experience again. Now after the second year, I’m not satisfied as I now want the results that I’m used to experiencing in British championship and I suppose at the NW200 with those podiums.
“I want to go there [NW200] and win now, but at the TT I also want to get a result. There would be no sense of satisfaction climbing halfway to Mount Everest. The sense of fear and adrenalin will probably be the same as the guy who went to the top, but you have to get to the top before you can really tick that box. You just want to keep pushing up the ladder and I believe if I can get more time on the motorbike we can push towards a TT podium in 2015. That’s the goal anyway.”
Josh Brookes’ TT Experience (Josh was talking to Paul Lindsay)