BROC TICKLE INTERVIEW: HEADED TO THE 2020 LORETTAL LYNN NATIONAL WITH A NEW FACTORY YAMAHA RIDE
2020 has been a year of uncertainty for everyone, especially for 2011 West Coast 250 Supercross champ Broc Tickle. Broc began the year with plans to race on his own privateer deal during his first Supercross race in over two years. But as is often the case, one factory rider’s injury opened the door for another rider to take the spot. Tickle was then signed on to replace the injured Joey Savatgy at the JGRMX Yoshimura Suzuki team. Although Tickle had a credible 12thplace finish at his 2020 debut in Tampa, he was soon sidelined again with a broken hand that he suffered in a crash the next weekend. Howwever, with COVID-19 delaying the Supercross series, Tickle had time to recover for the series restart in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, Broc would break his other hand, but this time he raced through the pain, eager to find a ride for outdoors. It was at the final round in SLC, where tickle took his best finish with a sixth place. With Joey Savatgy returning to JGRMX for outdoors, team manager Jeremy Albrecht was doing what he could for Tickle, although he was paying for his own expenses. That was when the Monster Energy Yamaha factory team asked Broc to replace injured team rider Aaron Plessinger for the summer.
Interview by Jim Kimball
Photos by Trevor Nelson
FIRST OFF, CONGRATS ON SIGNING WITH THE FACTORY MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA TEAM FOR THE OUTDOORS. It is a good opportunity for me. Firstly, I appreciate everything JGR has done for me. This opportunity came to the table, it is awesome, and I am excited for it. JGR was doing everything to help me out. I was going to be under the tent, but I was going to have to take care of a lot of expenses, and what not. I got a call from Yamaha to come ride the bike and see what I thought. Then things lined up there. I am excited and I am feeling really comfortable for making another switch during the 2020 season.
LET’S TALK FURTHER ABOUT JGR. IT IS NOT LIKE YOU ARE LEAVING THEM, OR THEY ARE LEAVING YOU RIGHT? YOU HAD A RIDE FOR SUPERCROSS WITH THEM, BUT NOT OFFICIALLY FOR OUTDOORS. THEY WERE TRING TO HELP YOU, SO THERE AREN’T ANY BAD FEELINGS? Obviously when I got the Yamaha call, I called J-Bone (Jeremy Albrecht) and let him know that they called. He said, “if it is a better deal, I would recommend riding the bike. If things line up, you should take it.” Obviously, the deal was better, because it was a true factory bike. He thought I needed to take it, because 2020 has been basically my comeback year. It had been pretty tough for me to get everything lined up, and with everything going on in the world right now, racing has been hit or miss. He said, if something comes up and it is better, that I should probably pursue it. So, that is how it happened, and how things went about.
WHEN YOU GOT THE CALL FROM YAMAHA, DID THEY IMMEDIATELY WANT TO SIGN YOU? I think that the majority of people thought for sure was that I was wrapped up with JGR outdoors, obviously it looked that way. The program for me at JGR was basically a verbal agreement that they would help me with bikes, and I needed to figure out the rest on my own. Obviously, I was very grateful for that! I built some relationships with JGR, so it was a bitter-sweet deal. 2020 has been all over the place for me. I’m excited about being with Yamaha as I can basically be at home and do my normal program like I have done in years past with other teams. You have the whole Yamaha crew here where I live, so I am excited for it. I feel really comfortable on the bike and I know Sergio, who is a chassis guy, who understands suspension. I have worked with him in the past at RCH for a lot of years, along with some of the other Yamaha guys. There are some local faces around me, and I am excited. It is not a major transition for me.
IT HELPS THAT YOU HAVE NEVER BURNED ANY BRIDGES AND ARE GENERALLY WELL LIKED IN THE INDUSTRY. I am thankful that I have done that as well. I think you and I have touched on this before, even throughout my suspension people were asking how I was doing. I have left a good path for Broc Tickle as a racer for people to look up to and to appreciate working with. I truly appreciate that from the feedback I get from the sport.
YOU 2020 SUPERCROSS SEASON STARTED OFF WELL AT TAMPA AND YOU ENDED IT WELL IN SALT LAKE CITY. OF COURSE, YOU WERE DEALING WITH SOME INJURIES. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR SUPERCROSS SEASON? I wish those injuries were not in there. Like you said, I came back in Tampa, and I would say that I was right where I expected myself to be. Of course, I still did not know what to expect obviously from being sidelined for two years. Then at the second race of my comeback in Arlington, I broke my hand. Then, obviously the beginning of COVID started and Supercross got pushed back which honestly gave me time to heal up and be ready for the Salt Lake trip. Then I went to Salt Lake and during the first practice I broke my other hand. It was another setback, but I enjoyed the trip to Salt Lake. If the other races had been set in stone, I would have probably not have gotten any Supercross in. I did not start feeling better until maybe the last two races at Salt Lake City. I finished the race in sixth place, and that was awesome for my confidence and for the JGR team. It was a good time, and I am looking forward to this outdoor season. I have the experience and the right people around me to be competitive, which is the goal. I want to be in the mix. I know that there is a lot of fast guys with a lot of talent. I still have that fight to come back and put myself in the mix.
HOW ARE YOUR HAND INJURIES NOW? ARE YOU 100 PERCENT? The first week or so of outdoor riding after I got back to Salt Lake were a little rough for myself. My hand was just weak, but now that I rode for a while, I have built some strength up in those small muscles and joints in my hand. I am ready to go now; I am building on a good platform and I think that is what it takes. I am looking forward to starting out the season. I want to start out strong and show people that I want to run up front and be in the mix.
I’VE HEARD THAT YOU ARE A GOOD TEST RIDER, DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN GET THE YAMAHA DIALED IN BEGORE THE SERIES OPENER? Yes, even the first day on the bike, I was pretty happy with it. Ryan Villopoto was testing with these guys for six weeks now, so the baseline is at a great point to personalize. That is where it starts, you have to have a good baseline to start with. Then each rider has a great starting point and can find the feeling they are searching for.It all starts there I feel like I am there already, so that part is taken care of. From now until Loretta’s, it’s just a little fine tuning. When we get to the first race, obviously there will be things that come up that can be tweaked to make better or what not. I am having fun right now riding the bike.
THE YAMAHA 450 GUYS SEEMED TO STRUGGLE AT THE RACES HELD IN SALT LAKE CITY, DID YOU NOTICE THAT? At this level, it is so tough. You never know what is going on within the rider, within the team, within whatever. There are so many variables that can cause somebody to have some results that are not up to their standards. I was focused on myself, and doing well for JGR, I didn’t pay attention to anyone else. It’s simply so many little things that can change or happen in which it affects your racing results.
YOU SAID YOU WERE READY TO BE UP FRONT, HAVE YOU SET GOALS FOR THIS OUTDOOR SEASON? I am probably in the middle of that. To be honest, I know what to expect of myself and I know that I am good enough to be up there, so that is the expectation. At this level goals are important, and I have goals. I try to set them a little high because that keeps me accountable to a certain extent. Like what I talked about, at this level, there is so much little stuff that matters. I have been around long enough to realize that, and I am not going to get too hooked into to saying something like “I want to be on the podium at every race.” I am not going into it that way. I am going into this knowing that I have what it takes to be competitive and relying on myself when it is time to turn that on.
AS A WRAP UP WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADD ANYTHING? I am just grateful for who has helped me throughout this year. Obviously a huge thank you to JGR stepping up, along with my other sponsors like FXR and Alpinestars. There were so many people prior to the season starting that kept me going. Jim, I am looking forward to catching up with you a couple of rounds in, with some good results on paper and we can talk more then.