BROC TICKLE INTERVIEW: HIS JGRMX DEAL, HIS PLANS FOR OUTDOORS & MORE
While many may have moved away from racing, and become embroiled in bitterness, Broc Tickle used his positive mindset to continue riding and training throughout his two-year suspension from the FIM. Set to return to Supercross racing in February 2020, Broc began to gain steam. First, he signed with FXR and became their premier rider, and then details began to materialize with a privateer ride supported by Aeo, Husqvarna, and WP. As is too often the case, rider injury resulted in a factory fill in ride opportunity. The JGRMX Yoshimura Suzuki team was already down to one rider when Joey Savatgy was injured during a pre-season race, and then they lost Freddie Noren to a foot injury at round two. The team was left without a 450 rider and Broc Tickle was recruited to fill the spot. Broc would finish with a very credible twelfth at his return to Supercross in Tampa, however a wrist injury at the next round put him on the sidelines again. Now recovered, and ready to ride, Tickle has to wait out the storm like all of us. We caught up with Broc Tickle to get insight on his transition back into racing and to see what he’s up to now.
By Jim Kimball
AS YOU GOT CLOSER TO RACING, PRESS RELEASES STARTED COMING OUT. FIRSTLY, YOU HAD SIGNED WITH FXR. Obviously, I have been around for a while, and a couple of people I’ve met connected me with FXR. They always told me how good the gear was, and things just lined up for it to fall into place. It was really awesome to see someone who was willing to commit to me even at the level they did. When I signed with FXR, I literally did not have a plan at all. I was working on things, but nothing was in place to go racing, but they still committed to me.
WHAT WERE YOUR PLANS? I put together my own gig with AEO, Husky, WP and with a whole bunch of other people helping out. My plan was to go racing on my own at Tampa and share a rig with Kyle Chisholm.
HOW DID THAT TRANSITION INTO JGR? Just after Christmas, I was working on finding a mechanic and things were falling into place pretty well. We still needed to work out some details, but then Fredrik Noren got injured at the second round. I got a call from J-Bone (Jeremy Albrecht, JGRMX Team Manager) and it went from there.
WERE YOU INTERESTED RIGHT AWAY? Initially, I was not really that interested because I put a lot of work in, and so did the people around me to support my privateer effort. At first, it just did not make sense for me. I was going to have to leave FXR and a bunch of sponsors that I worked hard on getting, and who committed to me prior to that. Then the following week, I got a call from J-Bone and they figured out some things on their side, and it got to the point where it was a no-brainer for me to move forward with JGR.
IT’S GOOD THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO KEEP SOME OF YOUR SPONSORS. That was what was cool about the whole JGR program coming together. J-Bone and the people around him thought that it was very important for me to come back and be ready and comfortable. They did not want me to make the decision to move over from my privateer program based on it being a factory team. They wanted me to come back and be happy with my decision to be no the team. As I said, it got to the point where it was as no-brainer. The deal was there, and I took it. I went to North Carolina for four weeks, raced Tampa and did pretty good at my first race back in almost two years. The whole experience of being back at the races was awesome. It sucked after that second-round back to get injured, but I have already been through so much over the last few years that this is just a little hurdle. I was still positive and looking forward to getting back to racing. But obviously with the world on lockdown at the moment, it is a tough deal for everybody I would say.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST RIDE THE SUZUKI? I actually rode the bike after Anaheim 2 just to get an idea of what the Suzuki felt like, and then about two weeks later I flew to North Carolina for about a month before Tampa.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING BACK AT THE RACES IN TAMPA? It was awesome to be back, and the whole day was filled with emotion. I did press day and that knocked the rust off a little bit. I knew there was going to be some race nerves being back and I was excited. I knew that I was good enough to come back. Actually, I still feel like I am on a comeback to be honest, because I only got one race in, so I am kind of in that mindset still of coming back. I want to come back and be as good or better than what I was prior to my suspension. It was cool to see the fans, be in the pits, roll down into the stadium for each race, and just be back in the environment that I thrived off of for so long and then missed for two years. It was a good feeling.
HOW DID THE RACING GO IN YOUR OPINION? The heat race set the tone for the night for me, it was awesome. I got in there and battled with the guys up front and it was fun. I really, really enjoyed it. In the main event, I was literally in chaos the whole time. I was in a pack of guys, about six or seven of us within five to six seconds, so it was pretty gnarly intensity for myself for not being at the races for so long. But I expected that, and I did not try to fight it, I just let it fall into place. I feel like I could have been a little bit better in the main event but overall it was obviously a good showing for my first race back.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING BACK ON A SUZUKI RM-Z450? Even when I rode the bike the first time, before we worked things out for Supercross, it felt in a sense like I rode it before. They have done a lot of work with the bike over the last couple of years. They went to the new chassis. I was on the older chassis in 2017, and then in 2018 they came out with a new bike.So, it was a completely different bike. But then again at the same time, there was something about it that felt like I rode it and raced it before. Obviously, it’s similar characteristics because it is the same manufacturer.
ARE YOU EXCITED TO GET BACK TO RACING? Yes. At this point, I am looking forward to getting back on the bike, doing some testing for outdoors, and getting more comfortable. To be honest, I only probably had four weeks on the bike. We did get some testing in, now after watching videos from Supercross, we have a direction to improve. If we can improve a little bit more, I think I can be back in the mix a little further up than getting twelfth in the main event. Obviously, with what is going on in the world, we are unsure. Things are set for June and it is looking like outdoors will go first, and then Supercross in the fall. Right now, it is like a reset button for everybody. I am ready to get some time in on a Suzuki just to get riding and have some fun. I can do some trail riding because all the public tracks are closed. I’ll work on some technique stuff overall, and just get some time on the bike.
SO, YOUR HAND INJURY IS ALL HEALED UP AND YOU JUST NEED PLACES TO RIDE? Yes, I guess the guys at JGR can ride at JGR’s track, but the shop is on a lockdown to a certain extent. Then, everybody here at Suzuki in California is on lockdown as well, and everybody is at home. At the moment, I am going to have to be patient. I have a couple of people working on some things to try to get a bike for me and then we will go from there.
“So, I will basically be on the team, but with Freddie, Joey and Alex being on the team, maybe it would be nice to be over to the side by myself. You know what I mean? Giving them some space while I got my own space.”
WHAT ABOUT THE SPECIFICS WITH JGR? I UNDERSTOOD THAT IT WAS SUPERCROSS ONLY, HAS THAT CHANGED WITH COVID-19 SHAKING UP THE SCHEDULE? With the last conversation, the plan was basically to try to make it work for me to be on the team for outdoors. And with that being said, I am on the team, but there is a possibility that I might not be under the semi, which I am okay with. I could be under the Pirelli truck for outdoors. That could change, but I will be on their bike. So, I will basically be on the team, but with Freddie, Joey and Alex being on the team, maybe it would be nice to be over to the side by myself. You know what I mean? Giving them some space while I got my own space. In theory, it is ultimately what we agreed upon right now. Prior to that it was just a ten-race deal with them. We still need to work out some small logistic stuff, but as things clean up a little bit and we get back to our normal lives, things will start to fall in place.
“I feel like I still have some in the tank to give and prove. Obviously, I am not young in the big theory of racing dirt bikes, but with me being off for two years and not having any injuries, I feel like that basically means I am two years younger than I am.”
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WORKING WITH JEREMY ALBRECHT. I have known J-Bone since I rode the JGR Yamaha back in 2012 at the end of the year. I almost went there for 2013, but the RCH deal ended up being the direction I wanted to go. That was when we met, when I flew to North Carolina and J-Bone and the whole JGR squad took care of me. I was there for two days and flew home. Over the years I’ve talked to J-Bone here and there just to keep relevant, in case he needed somebody. I even talked to him prior to the 2020 season before they had worked things out. I was calling to see if there was opportunity for me to be on the team. Now it is pretty cool to see that it fell into place. I am just excited to get back at the races, it is one of those things we have done for so long. Even throughout my two years under suspension I still went to the races and hung out. I was around and rode weekly and daily.
ONE OF YOUR LAST RACES WITH RED BULL KTM, PRIOR TO YOUR SUSPENSION YOU TOOK A FOURTH OVERALL – CAN YOU GET BACK TO THAT POINT? If I did not believe I could, I feel like I would look at this differently, and my comeback would be looked at differently. I feel like I still have some more in the tank to give and prove. Obviously, I am not young in the big theory of racing dirt bikes, but with me being off for two years and not having any injuries, I feel like that basically means I am two years younger than I am.
YOU RECEIVED A LOT SUPPORT THROUGH YOUR SUSPENSION TIME, THAT MUST HAVE HELPED? Obviously, there was going to be a little bit of negative, but I think overall, I am generally liked in the sport. I knew that there was going to be people supporting me, and I just tried to be transparent and honest as much as I could. I was not too vocal about it because I did not feel like it was the place to cry about it, but I had to step up and accept what I was dealing with and move forward and get through it with a positive mindset. Obviously, it was not easy. There were times that I thought about putting the boots up and figuring out something else to do. Obviously, that goes through your mind. I feel like when you get put in that position where you do not have much leverage to speak it’s difficult for people to believe the truth. I knew I was in a tough spot, and I am pretty proud with how I handled it. But now that we are passed it, I am moving forward.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS? Overall, I am excited to be back racing. I am excited for everybody that has been, and is, in my corner. I’m looking forward to getting back to the races and enjoying it. Hopefully I can put myself in the right place, make improvements and be competitive.