BROC TICKLE INTERVIEW: HEADING INTO 2021 HOUSTON SUPERCROSS WITH AN ALL-NEW PROGRAM
While Broc Tickle’s recent signing with the Smartop/Bullfrog/Motoconcepts team, doesn’t give him a lot of time to prepare for 2021 Supercross, it does offer him more time to prepare than his 2020 fill-in rides with JGR Suzuki, and Monster Energy Yamaha gave him. Working with his personal sponsors to develop his own privateer team, Tickle knew it would be best to accept Tony Alessi’s offer to ride the Honda 450 next season. 2021 will be a pivotal year for Broc as he hopes to reestablish himself as a 450 class front-runner. Now that he has a secure spot with a proven team for the 2021 Supercross season, Broc Tickle has a great opportunity to succeed.
Words by Jim Kimball
Photos by Matt Dowsey & MXA
BROC, YOUR MCR HONDA DEAL HAPPENED VERY QUICKLY, DIDN’T IT? Yes, obviously, I felt like the team was full. But Tony Alessi and I were talking prior to them posting a picture and saying, “here is our team for 2021.” I was putting together my own program with AEO again and with Kyle Chisholm. But, at the last minute I thought it was a good idea to text Tony and ask him what was going on. He called me right away and said, “You want to ride the bike tomorrow?” So, I knew it (the MCR 2021 team) was not a sure thing yet, and I knew that this was maybe a try-out. We went to the track and I rode the bike. Then within 24-48 hours, I got on a call with Mike Genova and Tony to go over what they were thinking and signed a deal that night. So, in a short period of time, things changed pretty quickly for me. Obviously, it was a blessing. It is not easy to put together your own program to be competitive at the level I want to be at. We signed the deal and now I have been riding it since November 13th. I feel pretty good on the bike.
HOW WAS THE TRANSITION? Right away I was comfortable, it was just about getting back in Supercross mode and learning the new bike. I am really pumped that it worked all out. I feel great, and I have nothing to worry about but being good on my dirt bike. I did it at the right time and I have enough time to prep for racing coming up here in January.
“IT IS AWESOME TO SEE HOW FAST THINGS CAN COME TOGETHER IF YOU ARE IN THE
RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME.”
WE ALL THOUGHT THAT JUSTIN HILL WOULD RETURN TO THE TEAM FOR 2021. I don’t really know the details on that, but I do know that I was in the right place at the right time. And I did get the text at the right time because Tony said, “you want to ride the bike tomorrow?” It is awesome to see how fast things can come together if you are in the right place at the right time.
I WOULD IMAGINE WITH EVERYTHING GOING ON THAT IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO DO YOUR OWN DEAL? Yes, I did not have as much time, and actually, I did not have that much time last year. It worked out at a good time, and basically, I got everything in line. I obviously had to make the calls and tell the sponsors that were going to help me about the situation. I felt like the best thing for me was to take the deal and focus completely on my riding. Then show up for this first race in Houston 100% prepared.
YOU HAVE HAD SOME GREAT PERSONAL SPONSORS, BUT HOW COULD YOU PASS THIS UP? Well, going the route of doing on my own team, FXR was on board and they were significantly taking care of me. I had a couple of other sponsors that were also going to help me, but after crunching some numbers, there was not going to be much in my pocket at the end of it. The deal with MotoConcepts is awesome because it gave me the option of a true team ride. Obviously, it would be nice if I could keep my personal sponsors, but that is not the way the deal works. It was the right choice and I made it so, we are full force ahead focusing on preparation and instead of worrying about trying to get flights, hotels, budget, and all this other stuff that is needed to do it on your own.
WHILE YOUR FORMER SPONSORS MAY HAVE BEEN DISSAPOINTED, I AM SURE THEY HAD TO BE HAPPY FOR YOU. FXR was totally understanding and they did a really good job for me. Over the years, MCR has gradually gotten better. Last year, Malcolm got 6th in the championship, so you knew the bike was good. Vince has improved. Justin Brayton has won a race with them. Over the last couple of years, they have been the next best team to be on if you are not on the factory team.
ANY PARTICULAR THOUGHTS ON THE SCHEDULE FOR 2021? I am excited; I enjoyed the Salt Lake trip. It is exciting to go somewhere for a week and see places that we have not really ever got to witness because we fly in so late on Fridays and then leave on Sundays really early. That is something that I really enjoyed about the Salt Lake trip. Flying in and flying out is awesome obviously; we get to race but we don’t get to really soak up anything. We literally go there, get to the hotel, and have our wake-up call to get to the race. Then we race, get back to the hotel at 11:30 P.M. We then get another 3:00 a.m.. wake up call to get to our 6:30 a.m. flight home. Like I said, I cherished the trip to Salt Lake because it was cool for us to experience it like we were living there and being a part of the city. The 2021 series is going to be pretty cool, it’s going to be refreshing, and exciting!
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS THE YAMAHA YZ450F? I think 2020 as a whole, was a polarizing experience. I started on a Husqvarna, but was on a KTM shortly prior to the Supercross round in Tampa. Then my first race back, I got on a Suzuki which is totally opposite of an Austrian bike. Then even going from a Suzuki to a Yamaha was another change, but I felt more comfortable on the Yamaha, right away for outdoors. I had a good time with the Yamaha guys this summer. We had some flashes of brilliance. I also had a couple of races where I struggled a bit, but I think some of that was partially on myself. It was a little harder than I had anticipated and maybe overdid it during the week and showed up to the race a little tired.
HOW DO YOU FEEL COMPETING ON THE 2020 HONDA AS OPPOSED TO THE NEW 2021? The issue is having enough bikes and parts for the 2021. The new 2021s are hard to find, and I know dealers are not getting that many. My dad works at a dealership. He only got one and my brother got it. My dad got twelve 2020’s last year, so that can tell you where they are at production-wise on the new bike. Then obviously if that is the case, I am sure the parts are another issue. The 2020 has four years of development of the same chassis. I believe it is a no-brainer to race the 2020, especially with the time we have had to prepare for 2021.
WHAT IS IT LIKE HAVING TONY ALESSI AS YOUR TEAM MANAGER? He is at the track every single day and obviously, he has a lot of knowledge. He has been awesome to work with. I feel like the bike is where it is at because of him. He knows that because he has lived this life underneath Mike and Jeff his whole life. Tony understands that small changes can mean a big difference, and he focuses on what needs to be done; I think that is important.
“I HAVE OBVIOUSLY BEEN VERY CONSISTENT, BUT OUR FOCUSE IN MOVING FORWARD INTO THIS YEAR IS TO HAVE FLASHES OF BRILLIANCE MORE OFTEN.”
DO YOU RIDE TOGETHER AS A TEAM OR ARE YOU MORE INDEPENDENT? We are not all on the same schedule, but riding days are normally all the same for us. Our schedule this week was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and we are going to the tracks. We ride together as much as we can. Obviously, some of us are on a different program from different sources. I believe Shane (McElrath) is still working with Swanepoel, so he has a riding schedule from him. I know Benny (Bloss) has a riding schedule from Robby Reynard. And then as far as myself, I am actually having Randy Lawrence help me out a little bit. I recently decided to get some guidance from him, and he is going to help me for the upcoming season.
WHAT WAS YOUR GOAL WHEN HIRING RANDY LAWRENCE? It will be a little change of pace for me. Maybe change my own ways of training. I have always been fit, but we are now putting myself in an uncomfortable situation to grow and try to show up and be a little bit different this year. I have obviously been very consistent, but our focus in moving forward into this year is to have flashes of brilliance more often. I want to take my strengths with me which is being strong and consistent.
I AM REALLY INTERESTED IN THE DYNAMICS OF THE 2021 MOTOCONCEPTS TEAM. It reminds me of being back on a 250-factory team with the way the riding is structured during the week, and obviously that we have four riders on the team. And as a rider on a team like that, you want to be the best guy; that is just how it is. So, that helps all of us to push ourselves a little more. If there were only two guys on the team it would not be the same. I feel like having those extra two guys creates a little extra push during the week, and I think that will help develop all of us to be better on race day.
YOU CAN LEARN FROM EACH OTHER ABOUT BIKE SET UP. I have not really changed much on the bike at all, to be honest. It has been only small changes so far. We have not really tested too much, but we will be testing a lot in the next few weeks.
DO YOU SET A SPECIFIC GOAL FOR THE FIRST SUPERCROSS OF THE YEAR? I don’t really put a number on that, to be honest. I have in the past, but I feel that changes the dynamics mentally for yourself. With how deep the class is, I think the best thing for myself to do is to focus on “me” only. If I can just focus on myself and put in a full day of Broc Tickle’s best riding, we are going to have a good day at racing. I think that is the simplest way to look at it but not always the easiest thing to do with everything that is going on. My biggest focus for myself is no matter what spot that I am in, or how I am feeling, is to just tap into my best, and focus on that. If you can do that, you have accomplished what you are looking for.