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Josh Brookes' 2023 TT Diary | "Building confidence..."

Tim Keeton/Impact Images

To mark Josh Brookes' return to the Isle of Man TT this year, Bikesportnews will chart the highs, lows, trials and tribulations from the Aussie himself...

After a solid first day of practice and qualifying, Tuesday was the complete opposite and, unfortunately, we went the wrong way with the settings on the Superstock bike. We needed to improve the rear to get the balance better and get more confidence to flow through the corners, but it ended up being worse.

I spooked myself a few times getting offline and running wide a few times and I was having to use the buffer I’d given myself in corners a lot more than I would have liked. It wasn’t a comfortable opening lap and although the plan was to do two laps, I came in after the first to see if we could change anything mid-session. 


We couldn’t do that in the time we had, so I went back out for two more laps but the oil and yellow flags, along with some traffic, meant I got progressively slower. It didn’t do much for my confidence so I was hoping to put it behind me with a couple of laps on the Twin but the session was cancelled and so I ended the evening with a bit of a negative mindset.

Fortunately, the weather’s still amazing so we went back to Monday’s settings but with a few extra changes opposite to Tuesday, making the rear suspension harder. I did three laps on the big bike, and it felt like I went a lot quicker although the lap times didn’t really show that. I did a 126.7, which I think was half a mph quicker on Wednesday compared to Monday, but I needed a solid night to get my mind back on track.

One bad night sets you back here in terms of how you approach every corner, every jump. The bad moments linger which means you give a corner twice as much respect. You remember the discomfort, which is the opposite to BSB. If you have a moment at a corner at, say Donington Park, you come in, make changes to the bike and it’s immediately forgotten. It’s different here. 

Every lap’s useful though and we now know the direction we need to go with the bike. The front feels planted and dialled in but the rear’s still reacting off the bumps and sometimes feels like there’s a hinge in the middle so there’s further refinements to be made. The main thing is building confidence.

Hicky has years of experience with the BMW so knows what it’s going to do when and where whereas I don’t. If he has a slide or the bike kicks, he can deal with it and ride through it. My self-preservation is kicking in and holding me back a bit.

People may be surprised to hear that I’m using the Stocker in every race. We thought about running the Superbike but if I’d done that it would have disrupted my BSB programme too much in terms of our engine allocation. I have to think about my BSB chances this year and whilst we did request another engine, there’s a world-wide shortage when it comes to BMW parts, resources and engines so I’m focusing on the Stocker.

To be honest, it’s not a bad thing. I don’t think I’m in the position to win a race this year nor be able to challenge Hicky, Dean or Michael. They’re at the top of their game and in their TT prime so it’s not possible now for me to challenge for the win. It’s not a reasonable target. 

That’s not to say that one day it will be possible, and that’s the definite aim, but for this year, we’ll do the best we can with the Stock bike, and I’d like to think a podium is a possibility in one of the races. There’s a whole list of places where I can improve and gain time.

Back to Wednesday night and after three laps on the Stocker, I got two more in on the Dafabet Racing Supertwin. The bike’s pretty much there in terms of set up and it’s a very capable machine. Racing in the class highlights how much corner speed you need to carry and the bike’s certainly good enough, it’s just down to me now. I did close to 117mph last night so the confidence’s building.


Away from the track, I’ve been helping Faye (Ho, team owner) on a little mini-bike at the back of the paddock. She’s learning to ride a bike, so I’ve been helping her with the gear changes, clutch control, and the like.

I’ve also done a few photoshoots and interviews for the TV, along with a chat show at the fan park. You never quite know what the crowd want to hear as the audience can be quite diverse; some will engage with you whilst others are chatting with friends, catching some sun, and focusing on the alcohol in their hand! 

I’m going under the radar a bit and all the main men are having to carry out the majority of duties. Having said that, I’m off the meet the Mayor of Douglas today!

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