“I’m embarrassed, shocked”: What’s going on with BSB champion Josh Brookes?

Reigning champion Josh Brookes says he is 'in shock' at his lacklustre BSB results this season having finished no higher than sixth in the opening six races

Josh Brookes - VisionTrack Ducati [credit: Ian Hopgood]

Josh Brookes has conceded he is ‘embarrassed’ to have started the defence of his British Superbike Championship crown so poorly after a second weekend well adrift of the front runners.

The Australian comes into this season with the #1 plate on his machine for the second time in his career after wrapping up the 2020 British Superbike Championship with VisionTrack Ducati, whom he remains with for 2021.

However, while Brookes - now in his 12th season of BSB - has proven to be one of the most successful and consistent riders throughout his career having never finished lower than fifth overall, he has endured a troubled start to 2021 with lacklustre results at Oulton Park and Knockhill.

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From six races his best finish is a sixth place, with Knockhill alone seeing him down in 10th, 12th and 13th across the three races. By contrast, his team-mate Christian Iddon holds the championship lead with one win and three podiums.

Worst of all, Brookes - who says he is ‘embarrassed’ to be racing so far behind as champion - is uncertain as to why his form has dropped with his only reference point being a lack of rear grip. 

“I’m obviously disappointed with how Knockhill went and embarrassed to be that far back with the number one plate,” he told the British Superbike Championship website. “It’s not natural, and it’s not normal for me to be in those positions and I’m in a bit of shock to be honest.

“The bike didn’t feel right from the moment we rolled it out the truck and it doesn’t matter what we have done, the feeling has been the same. I’ve had bad races in the past but not so many in a row like we’ve had so far this season. I’ve always been able to turn it round and end the weekend on a positive note, but that wasn’t the case at Knockhill. But we won’t give in; I’ll work with my team to sort what we need to.

“On paper, let’s say the bike is supposed to be the same as we had last year, yet it doesn’t feel like that. It’s not a bad handling bike, it doesn’t become difficult to ride like wobble or weave or head shake or anything untoward like that. It does all the things you want it to do but just slowly because I have no grip. 

“For some reason, something is affecting how the tyre generates grip and everybody has suggestions of what we could do, and we have already tried or looked into it. It’s a bit of a mystery.”

Despite this, Brookes isn’t ruling out his hopes of a surge in form keeping him in the mix to retain his crown but is nervous that the following round at Brands Hatch - where he has won 10 of the last 14 races - could expose just how adrift he is from the front.

“I am bothered by it because obviously important races are being lost. But I can’t let it affect me as I know in myself that there is nothing wrong with me.

“I have ridden for long enough that I know when it is all correct, I will be away and ride it like I ever have, but at the moment it’s a situation where if I try harder I feel like I could do damage to the bike or to me, which would be a worse situation.”