Josh Brookes burst onto the international racing scene in 2004 with a World Supersport wildcard ride at Philip Island. He qualified on the front row and then won the race. In 2005, he won the Australian Supersport and Superbike championships but it took him until 2008 to get a full-time ride in the world series, finishing third in WSS.
Since then, he has raced a number of seasons in BSB, stirring up some controversy on occasion, and finally winning the championship in 2015. This resulted in an offer to race in World Superbikes for 2016 and Josh is back in Britain for BSB again on a Yamaha R1 in 2017.
Along the way, Josh raised a few eyebrows by having the balls to enter the TT, racing there for the first time in 2013 and, incredibly, becoming the fastest ever newcomer with a 127.7mph lap and a 10th place finish. In 2014, he had a 7th and another 10th at the TT, and returns again in 2017 racing a factory Norton.
Superbike Freaks caught up with Josh to find out about racing, jet-skis, unicycles and a crazy turtle…
Josh, firstly welcome back to BSB, you have been missed greatly in what turned out to be an exciting year at BSB. What was the driving reason for the return?
Thank you, I’m glad to hear people are happy for my return. I had no competitive position to stay in WSBK and BSB is the best domestic superbike series in the world.
How has the change been mentally and physically in the preparation for and transition from World Superbikes to British?
No difference at all.
Your pace on the R1 in 2015 was almost untouchable; do you see that returning for 2017 with the Anvil Hire Yamaha?
No, I think the level at the front of BSB has stepped up since the end of 2015 so I expect it to be more difficult.
Your rivalry with riders such as Shane Byrne always helped to fuel the fire of excitement in BSB. Will you be coming back with a clean slate or picking up where you left off, toe-to-toe?
I agree that rivalry is a key element to the racing and the excitement of the fans. I didn’t choose or pursue to antagonise Shakey, it just came after years of battle. I don’t think that chapter is closed yet.
Are you looking forward to returning to the ever-grey British weather?
I have to say no but its the same for everyone so I don’t dwell on it.
We were surprised to learn from your interview with Crash.net that BMW has no race department. That must make it so difficult to compete on the world stage without consistent support from the factory race team. How would you feel about riding another BMW in the future?
If they were open to developing their bikes with some direction from the rider I would consider it. You never know what will be the bike to be on in the future so we will have to wait and see.
It’s amazing that, at the level you’re at, it can still be a struggle to find a paying ride. Where does all the money in BSB go if hardly any of it goes to the riders?
It’s a huge cost to build, manage and run a team. For example, premises, wages, trucks, the bikes, crash damage, fuel, tyres, transport, accommodation, just to skim the surface. It doesn’t leave much for even a well-funded team to splurge on riders.
How do you keep fit in the off-season?
Motocross, stand-up jet-skiing, being a workaholic.
Fancy doing a trackday with SBF this year? 🙂
I have a very full schedule this year with all the events I’m participating in but maybe you can join one of my commitments.
Talk us through the Mountain section – what’s the best line to take to get the most air? Or doesn’t the line matter so much if you’re going fast enough?
To do the jump at Cadwell isn’t simply something that can be explained in words. I can do it lap after lap because I know what its supposed to feel like. Compare it to explaining to someone how to do a wheelie. You can say what needs to happen but they have to build up step by step so they know what it’s supposed to feel like. There is a variety of lines that will work but I stick to what’s fastest for the lap time and enjoy the air time that it brings.
Tell us about your relationship with Arai; have you always worn them? Do riders always pick what helmet brand they want to wear or do manufacturers often approach them & sponsor them to wear their brand?
I’ve been with Arai almost my entire career. I went with a different brand in 2002 because the contract deal was better but after you’ve had the best, it’s hard to accept the problems that come with other brands. I immediately moved back the following season and I feel very lucky to have the support that they give. As for other riders, I think they use what’s most comfortable for them or if they are lucky enough to be approached by a brand for sponsorship they will consider those options.
We hear you have a collection of high powered toys back home in Australia, dirt bikes, jet skis etc. In your downtime, do you still like the speed thrills or do you take a more relaxed approach?
I’m very rarely in what you would call a relaxed state. I’m motivated to get the most out of everyday so its normally being exhausted that forces me to relax. I’m at my happiest when i’m riding or working in the garage.
Have you finished the restoration on your Dad’s pickup truck and any chance of a photo?
Yes it’s mostly finished. I’ve done 10,000km with it since the build so any other work I have in mind will just be small touches.
Tell us something weird about Josh Brookes that not many people know…
Erm… I HATE coriander; I would like to have been born in the 1920s; I find it hard to get to bed (I’m a night owl so to speak); I can ride a unicycle; and I had a pet turtle for 10 years which I named Franklin and he got electrocuted when his boisterous ways broke the heater in the tank ☹️
One last question – what’s the story behind your number 25?
The number 25 is a something I picked when I was 6. My dad asked me to pick a number so I picked 25 and have stuck with it ever since.
Thank you for your time Josh, it’s been an absolute pleasure, and best of luck in 2017!
Interview by Ben Wiskin