Australian Josh Brookes’ return to the Superbike World Championship after an eight-year absence officially kicks off tomorrow, and today the last piece of the jigsaw was revealed when he and teammate Karel Abraham took the covers off their newly liveried BMWs at Phillip Island.
Brookes is stepping back into the world scene after dominating the British superbike title in 2015 on a brand new Yamaha, and he’s now facing a similar challenge in 2016: getting to grips with the BMW S 1000 RR, a bike he only rode for the first time last month.
“It was a perfect year in 2015. We started the challenge with a brand new model and the team worked perfectly. By mid-year we started winning and didn’t stop until the end.
Now we are in WorldSBK with a new challenge and we are starting again — almost a repeat of last year at this point.”
Brookes, from Bringelly, south of Sydney, completed pre-season testing alongside his WorldSBK colleagues at Phillip Island earlier this week, and finished up in 15th position.
He’s keeping a lid on his expectations for Phillip Island, “preferring to set some realistic goals like starting with the top 10 and then moving forward”.
“The biggest issue during pre-season testing has been finding a throttle connection on the S 1000 R that really suits me, and we are continuing to work on that,” says Brookes. “There’s no doubt the BMW is a great motorcycle, but it’s very difficult to create expectations this early on.
I believe in the bike and the team, and I wouldn’t be here if didn’t believe in myself. We have just got to put everything into play.”
Team owner Shaun Muir, who guided Brookes to his British superbike success, is ecstatic to be finally in the WorldSBK paddock. He said:
“It’s fantastic for us to be here. We have contested the British superbike title for many years, and we probably should have been in WorldSBK a few years ago when we won the title in 2011. But we let that opportunity slip by us.
There were a few twists and turns along the way to here today, but to be able to change manufacturer and get the support we have from BMW Motorrad has been great.
A three-year agreement to get Milwaukee as title sponsor was absolutely fantastic, and be able to retain Josh and also bring in Karel from MotoGP has produced a really strong feeling about the whole team.
Clearly we are on the back foot with a short period of testing and don’t expect to win races straight away, but we hope that when we get to Europe we will be I contention.”
WorldSBK practice commences at 10:15am tomorrow, and the two races will be held at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. A total of 10 Australians will be competing across the two world championship classes.
Phillip Island will also host world supersport action this weekend, alongside national support races in superbike, supersport, 125 GP/Moto3 and historics.
Tickets at the gate or www.ticketek.com.au Gates open at 8am Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Children 15 and under free.
For on circuit camping, entry gates are open 24 hours per day till Monday.