Josh Brookes has revealed how he 'threw a little s**t out' and spoke several choice words in the Milwaukee BMW garage on Friday evening, which resulted in him finding a 'stable plaform' from which to work at the close of the first World Superbike race weekend of 2016.
Returning to the world stage after seven years in the British series, Brookes rode to a pair of solid results inside the top ten (tenth and ninth) at Phillip Island, with his second race time on Sunday clocking in ten seconds faster than his efforts a day before.
The Australian had spoken of repeated issues with his electronics package - mainly traction control and throttle connection – during the two-day test that preceded the race weekend. But by Sunday evening, Brookes felt sufficient progress was made when he ditched the split throttle bodies and dialled the traction control down to its 'least intrusive' setting.
Yet it was Friday, when the 32-year old felt significant steps weren't forthcoming, that he told BMW engineers in charge of electronics 'we might as well pack up and go home' if he couldn't find a comfortable setting with the BMW S1000 RR.
The words had their intended impact, as his lap times dropped by a full second the following day. “Friday was like the breaking point,” Brookes explained. “After practice I was so numb with emotion. I was like, 'How can we make the same bike go around the same track with no changes made in a forward direction?' Yesterday morning things changed. I didn't throw anything but, verbally, I threw a little shit out. I said 'If this bike doesn't become what it needs to be, what I'm requesting it to be then we might as well pack up and go home or put someone else on the bike.' [I said this] To the Germans, to BMW, because they're the ones in control of the ECU and the problems I've been having.
“Against their will they made changes and the next day I was immediately a second a lap faster. Since then we've been able to focus on conventional settings. Because I've had the throttle feeling that I need, that feels like a normal bike, since then I've been able to focus on what tyre we're going to use; what spring settings we're going to use; ride height; a bit more preload on the front; a bit more engine braking… These are normal changes and that's what I've been doing the last day and a half. In the [second] race we were ten seconds faster over race distance than yesterday.
“To be ninth and tenth after the start of the week is probably not such a bad result. I was hoping to be closer to the back of the lead group, in maybe eighth position. Then that'd be a better place to move forward from. But anyway, we're not that far away. We have a stable platform to build on. We finished both races and lap times were quite consistent. Tyre life was quite OK, so it gives us a lot of information and some positives to move forward with.”
The reigning Briitsh Superbike champion was locked in a fierce three-way scrap with Althea BMW's Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger for the majority of race two. Brookes was to come home ninth, just over 0.01s behind the German.
It was in both races that he made several electronics requests, which included doing away with the split throttle bodies, something which he feels would be beneficial to introduce for the second round in Thailand.
“The assistance from traction control and anti-wheelie is at the least intrusive it can be,” he continued, on Sunday evening. “On top of that I requested to change the style [with which] the fuelling and the ignition is developed. From where it goes from corner entry to back on the throttle it is a completely different method to what Reiterberge and the others are using. That was what I needed to get the feel.
“We've got the split throttle bodies that a lot of the bikes are running now. That was another thing that I asked to be removed. Just until we define exactly the point at which we were having trouble. Now we've done that I'd be quite interested in having the split throttle bodies back on as soon as possible. I think there is some potential in that. But it wasn't something we could do today. It basically has to be reprogrammed to be the throttle connection that I requested and redone to match the split throttle bodies.
“So, there's a bit of homework to be done between now and Thailand to mesh together the best of what we've learnt from this weekend. I think the throttle bodies can have some potential. I'm curious to know the part that we found was good this weekend to the part that we lost, if we can try and merge that together, that could improve our potential of bridging the gap to the leaders.”