An exclusive interview with Josh Brookes who is returning to the MCE British Superbike championship with Anvil Hire Yamaha in 2017.

After seven years in BSB, Brookes clinched the 2015 championship with Milwaukee Yamaha before making the switch to World Superbikes while changing machinery to BMW. However, 2016 resulted in a difficult and frustrating campaign with the BMW S1000RR which resulted in Brookes and SMR going separate ways at the end of the year.

Brookes will now make a surprise comeback to BSB with Anvil Hire Yamaha while he is also targeting a return to the road racing scene plus the Suzuka 8 Hours.

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Crash.net
When you last chatted with Crash.net we spoke a lot about 2016 and how it unfolded so we won't go back over old ground, but are there any final reflections you have on that year you want to share?

Josh Brookes:
Racing is a fickle game and there is that old saying that you are only as good as your last race. People are quick to judge and you have only got to take the best guy in the world Valentino Rossi and if he has a bad few races he is considered too old or past it against the younger guys or even Jorge Lorenzo if he has a bad race in the wet he is considered useless.

People or media are very quick to judge or criticise, I think that is human nature and it is not people trying to be malicious, people have their thoughts and opinions and it is just the way of the sport. It seems like there could be people who think you've lost your edge or something has happened that is preventing you from getting the results or was it the bike. There are a lot of questions on people's minds. When I get back to BSB and get back to the front it will put those bad ideas away.

Crash.net:
Looking towards 2017, how does it feel knowing you are returning to Yamaha machinery?

Josh Brookes:
That wasn't a primary target when I was in the selection process trying to get a deal for this year. I wasn't adamant about being on a Yamaha but I am certainly pleased to be back on the bike as it is a known quantity, it isn't like I have to wonder what to expect from the bike and what is possible. It is one of those boxes that is already ticked as it has been done before.

Also, having a spin on a Kawasaki in the Australian championship at the back end of the year was good to just jump on a different bike, different series with very little time to adjust so I could go to my old self and adapt to the situation and I was able to win races. That was a nice touch and reassuring for me to know given the correct opportunity on almost any bike like I had in the past I can get it competitive if it is possible.

Crash.net:
You were connected to a number of rides for 2017 including some in World Superbikes but didn't work out. Was it a difficult decision to step back to British Superbikes?

Josh Brookes:
Well, often the decision is made for you because all the top level teams in World Superbikes are full with established riders who have no reason to leave. Unless people retire, quit or jump to a different opportunity options that are sought after in World Superbikes don't come up easily. Then you've got the middle to lower ranked teams in World Superbikes that often ask riders to bring money and that is not something I can achieve. Being an Australian there are plenty of sponsors here but often involved in other sports and not motor racing. To try to attract Australia sponsors to get behind it is extremely difficult and then you have got to try to find a way to make a salary for yourself. It is just not really achievable.

So, then you look at what is offered, there were a few offers in BSB and even World Endurance, China and others which was quite interesting - not as good as BSB - but something I was considering because the money was right.

The final decision was quite easy because British Superbikes is the best domestic series in the world at the moment and racing has a big following in Britain so teams can afford to get the sponsorships and pay riders a salary. That is what you need to go racing; a competitive bike and the freedom to be relaxed as you know you are making income while risking what you need to get the performance.

On top of that you get a fair go in BSB because of the rules and structure of the series. Every rider on the grid with any manufacturer has a fair go at getting race results and being a title contender. It is quite a refreshing playing field knowing you are going to get a fair chance to show your calibre of rider.

Crash.net:
There is likely to be a lot of comparisons, especially in the build up to 2017, to your 2015 BSB title-winning campaign on the Yamaha. Has your mindset changed at all compared to 2015?

Josh Brookes:
I think every season has its own challenges and opportunities and depends what team you go with, what bike, what rule changes might be so you never really predict or compare one year to the next. I have my experience of the Yamaha from 2015 to compare and knowing what worked then and I will try to replicate many of those points as I can.

In 2017, we have got a load of different riders so you have to take it as an independent year and try to make the most of the opportunities to see where that puts us.

Crash.net:
Clearly the ultimate goal like every season is to earn a living by racing and winning races, but stepping back into BSB are there other objectives that spring up in 2017?

Josh Brookes:
I think that desire to win and be competitive is natural from a young age. I have no shortage of motivation or desire hence why I leave the warm and beautiful lifestyle in Australia to go racing. So, I have plenty of motivation like in previous years.

If there is something new it is to try to put any negatives of 2016 behind me and get back to a positive mindset of going out and winning races in a happy environment. The end of last year it was a stale garage atmosphere and that is not proactive for results or feelings. I am looking forward to getting enjoyment out of the racing and that'll be the first thing that I want to achieve.

Crash.net:
Following on from that, what sort of reception are you expecting from the British fans?

Josh Brookes:
I think I'm quite popular in terms of they are going to watch as in they are either against me or backing me. I think it will be received well on both accounts because you can't have your favourite guy out there racing and not have his arch rival. You have got to have that Rossi v Gibernau style atmosphere in racing, we also saw it with Troy Bayliss v Colin Edwards, Carl Fogarty v Scott Russell, there has always got to be that rivalry.

It is not for me to say who the fans will be behind but the key is the recipe to have that situation. I think being Australian and being a strong competitor makes it interesting. I am hoping I'll be received by the public with open arms because they want to see that rivalry. Maybe their favourite is Shakey or Leon or whoever but you have got to have that other guy to make it exciting. I'm under the impression it will be well received.

Crash.net:
We're sure it will be! With the announcement now out what is your plan between now and the start of pre-season testing?

Josh Brookes:
I will try to stay in Australia as long as possible because the weather here is more suitable for training and different activities. The sunshine always keeps you upbeat and a lot of riders head out to Spain and places all over the world to get a bit of sunshine and a bit of motivation for the training. The team start pre-season testing on the 4-6 March, there are other ideas but that one is confirmed, so I will definitely be over the start of March and in the UK from then on.

I am also working on a couple of other things but nothing I can announce just yet but hopefully in the next days and weeks there will be more information on other plans and projects.

Crash.net:
You've expressed a desire to make a return to road racing and been linked to some very interesting projects, is that something you are still aiming for?

Josh Brookes:
There is nothing confirmed as of yet but conversations are ongoing and something I am exploring. Definitely the roads I am happy to ride and have been looking to do before but it was only SMR who put the stop to it before as they saw it as a distraction from the short circuit stuff. Now I am free to make my mind up again. It is just getting all the ducks in a line. There is a lot of stuff to consider with contracts and conflicting sponsors. It is not easy to collaborate so I am trying to find that happy middle ground where everyone can accept it. There are a few ideas to try to incorporate the roads with what is already announced, so there is some interesting news to come if it all pays off.

Crash.net:
Would that also try to include a return to the Suzuka 8 Hours given your experience there?

Josh Brookes:
I would love to but at the moment, again, it is one of those conflicts of interest between different brands and contracts. The Suzuka 8 Hour is mentioned in my contract and is one of the races that has already been ticked off as something I want to do and if the opportunity presents that I can do it the team have agreed to give me the freedom to do that. The deal isn't done yet but the conversations are ongoing.

I'm trying to do all the things on my chosen list so if I can do all the different ones which excite me then it will be a busy year. I like to be busy, if I could race every other weekend I would, I'm not one to get tired or want a break from it. If it was an endless budget and an endless resource I would be happy to go racing every second weekend of the year if I could. It would be a pleasure for me to race in everything but we will see what can be achieved.

Crash.net:
It certainly sounds like an intriguing year in store, best of luck with 2017 and thanks for speaking to us.

Josh Brookes:
Thanks and my pleasure!