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Josh Brookes' 2023 TT Diary | "You shouldn't be allowed to do this..."

Tim Keeton/Impact Images
Josh Brookes, FHO Racing, BMW M 1000 RR, Dafabet, Isle of Man TT, 202 TT, portrait [credit: 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...

We arrived on the island in the early hours of Saturday morning after getting the 2am ferry from Heysham but the journey all went smoothly both traveling up on the M6 and on the ferry itself so before we knew it, we were setting up in the paddock, getting the motorhome all plugged in and set up for another TT fortnight.

The first day was spent helping the team set the garage up, getting all my gear scrutineered, attending the riders’ briefing, getting signed on, registering all the transponders and getting all my helmets sticked up with the right sponsors; basically, all the stuff we need to do to allow us out on the Mountain Course!


I managed to do a lap on my own in a car up but then after dinner, went out at about 8pm on a road bike as I wanted to remind myself of what it would be like to practice in the evening when the sun’s setting. As it turned out though, some cloud had rolled in so didn’t get the feel I was looking for! 

It was very quiet on the road though, so I got a good, clear run around the circuit and one thing that jumped out at me was the lack of trees through Glentramman. It used to be like going through a tunnel, but the openness and brightness stood out for me. Having said that, when you’re in practice or race conditions, you don’t notice the things to the side of you. They’re like white noise and you’re whizzing by big trees like they’re flower beds!

I was looking out for tarmac changes and anything I needed to be considerate of, but the lap was more for peace of mind and reassurance. I’d rather do it than not.

Ahead of Monday’s practice sessions, there was a little bit of anxiety. When I returned in 2017 after missing two years, I thought that as I’d already done 129mph, I’d pick up from where I left off, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth and felt like a newcomer. I felt out of place, I wasn’t comfortable with my track position and didn’t have much confidence at all.

Because of that, I was anxious that it might repeat itself, especially with the gap away being longer this time but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have that. I felt comfortable on the track and knew what I wanted to be doing and when. I had a far more predictable number of laps, and they were faster and smoother than I expected.

What stood out on Monday was that it didn’t feel as dangerous as what I’d built it up to be. Obviously, it’s the most dangerous road race in the world and you must be mindful of what you’re doing but the outside perspective of the dangers is bigger compared to when you’re on the bike. You don’t go through every corner thinking about the trees or the wall. Maybe for the odd corner here and there but for 90-95% of the lap, you have a typical rider’s mindset.

You’re thinking about how you can go quicker, where you can brake later and where you can accelerate earlier rather than where you don’t want to fall off! When you drive on the motorway, you don’t think about the accidents that have happened do you? It’s strange that the accident statistics from the last 100+ years of the TT is always spoken about. It doesn’t happen with anything else so I think the positive mindset and aspect of the TT should always be highlighted.

As soon as practice got underway, all the positive sensations came back and the overriding one is that you shouldn’t be allowed to be doing something like this! You think about all the great people that have ridden on these roads and how the people watching trackside have all either driven, ridden, cycled or walked on the road you’re doing 200mph on. It’s wild!

The TT reminds me of some of the roads I used to ride on back home. I had a route to work which took me through the hills and had ups and downs, very reminiscent of the TT layout. I had a CB250 Twin which I had to stretch the cables of just to get up to 60mph – and that was downhill with a tailwind! It was always quiet, and it felt like the road had been closed just for me to go to work so little did I realise at the time, it was early prep for the TT.


I got some good laps in on both the Twin and the Stocker and was pleased with the speeds on both so now we can start making some changes. The Twin ride obviously came late in the day and it’s good to have the extra bike rather than sitting idle when a session’s on. There’s definitely a case of FOMO of your in the garage when your rivals are out on track!

It’s totally different to the big bike in terms of the sensation and speed so but I always like to find the positives in anything I do. The difference between the two bikes is so great that they don’t compromise the other. There’s no overlap.

Faye (Ho) ensured any hurdles were negotiated to allow me to ride the bike and the Dafabet team have good history with Ivan Lintin and the like, so I was happy to take the ride. I rode it as it was yesterday so will make changes to things like the footrest, which was too low on a personal level, and widen the gap between the gear shift and the footrest just to make the gear shifts smoother. The front suspension also felt a little bit hard.

The Stocker was the opposite in terms of the suspension and felt too soft. We rode it as it was at the North West 200 but that circuit doesn’t have the undulations of the TT so the rear felt too low and is an area to address. The power felt a bit dull on the first lap, maybe due to soft power setting but with changes ahead of the second lap it was more like I expected. I wasn’t able to use it all though and was rolling off in places and there was more power than what I needed on day one. That’s a good problem to have and although the bike had more to offer than what I did, sometimes you have to go slower to go quicker.

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