Josh Brookes insists he is riding the same despite torrid Thruxton BSB weekend

Josh Brookes remains at a loss to explain why his title-winning form from 2020 has deserted him for his British Superbike Championship (BSB) defence

Josh Brookes - VisionTrack Ducati [credit: Ian Hopgood]

Josh Brookes maintains he is ‘doing all the stuff I usually do’ despite recording his worst results of what is proving to be a very sobering defence of his British Superbike Championship (BSB) title at Thruxton over the weekend.

The Australian is enduring a dismal 2021 campaign very much at odds with his metronomic consistency in BSB, a steady hand that has seen him reach the Title Showdown in all nine attempts, including two titles in 2015 and 2020.

Sticking with the same Paul Bird Motorsport-run VisionTrack Ducati squad he won last year’s title with, Brookes has struggled to muster top ten performance in the opening four events on the Ducati Panigale V4 R with a best finish of just fifth place in the weather-affected third race at Brands Hatch.

However, the high-speed Thruxton circuit dealt a new blow to his hopes of reaching the Title Showdown in 2021, even though the format has been expanded for this season to accommodate eight riders.

Scoring a best finish of 14th in race three - having crossed the line 17th and 16th in the first two encounters - Brookes has slid to 12th in the standings, 30 points shy of Lee Jackson in eighth with four rounds remaining until the cut-off point for the Title Showdown.

However, while team-mate Christian Iddon rides high in second overall, Brookes remains ‘upbeat’ about his chances even if he is none the wiser as to why his performance has taken such a slump.

“I felt like I rode really good in [the third] race,” Brookes told the BSB website. “You get those indicators, the front is going and the rear is sliding, you’re doing all the things that feel good when you’re at the front and you’re pushing the limit. I was doing all the stuff I usually do, just not in the television audiences’ view. 

“I feel good in myself. I just need to keep reporting the information back and eventually something will have to change. I think if you continue to do the same thing the same way hoping for a different result it’s not really the right way of working. Hopefully, if I keep giving the right information back, we’ll get some change. We’ll see how we go as the rounds go on. 

“On corner entry the rear doesn’t really grip the track that well. If you think 80% of the braking is happening with front wheel and maybe 20% is coming from the rear, then I have lost 20% of my efficiency going into a corner because the rear isn’t helping the front. 

“And this changes between sessions; obviously we increase engine braking, decrease engine braking stuff like that, trying to find a setting. And then as I get to the middle of the corner and lean it over, normally the sensation you feel is the tyres get grip and the suspension loads into the tyres, and you can use that captive energy to accelerate out of the turn. But I just get a chattery feeling and the bike just skips away mid-corner. And here especially, it was just spinning. 

“As I come out of the turn, I go to accelerate with the other riders I’m around and the rear’s just spinning, spinning, spinning. It’s quite a difficult situation to understand exactly where the problems are. 

“As the rider, my duty is to ride the bike and give the information back and hopefully at some point the information they collect with the data or the comments I make will unearth a change that will bring us forward.”