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By Jim Kimball
Currently inside the top ten in the 2017 AMA Supercross 450 championship, RCH/Yoshimura/Suzuki’s Broc Tickle took a career best 3rd place podium in Toronto a few weeks ago. Proving the point that so many riders today are going the same speed, Tickle’s good start paved the way for his podium. Now with more confidence on his side, along with his history of improving throughout the year, Broc is looking for more.
IT TOOK YOU A LOT OF RACES TO FINALLY MAKE THE 450 PODIUM. HOW TOUGH IS IT OUT THERE? The class is really stacked, and everybody is very close in speed. Actually it has always been stacked to be in a 450 class, and get on the podium, but this year in particular it seems much harder. Every practice session, there is not much separation between 1st and 15th. So this year, it is more important than ever to get the start. The tracks have been pretty basic, and all of us have done all the same obstacles, so it is all about getting that start and holding your own for the first half of the race. You need to be up front to put yourself in a situation to get a top 5, top 3, or even win the race.
WHERE CAN YO MAKE UP TIME ON A MODERN SUPERCROSS TRACK? Now we have a computer program that we use where they video us, and then ghost over top of other people, so we can see areas of the track where there are differences. But all and all, I think it is really focusing on yourself and riding to my potential, and focusing on the things that I need to do. That is what I have been doing the last couple of weeks, trying to lock in on the start and, really make it happen as many times as I can.
IS THERE MORE AGGRESSIVE RIDING THIS YEAR? I would say that it is a different kind of aggressive riding. Obviously there are a select few guys, who we all know, who race too aggressively in some people’s books. But we are all out here trying to do the best we can, and some riders have just been brought up to race like that. I feel like I have been in this class long enough that I know the guys that I am racing with. You learn what you are going to get with each guy. For me that is just trying to stay away from trouble. If you get a bad start, it is tough, and you have to make aggressive moves to pass guys that are the same speed as you. The start, along with your first lap, is really, really important. You have to get out in the front. Even if you do not have a good start, you have to make as many passes as you can on the first lap and hang in there. That is what it is all about in the 450 class these days.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE SEASON HAS GONE FOR SO FAR? Well, I started out a little slow. I felt coming into Anaheim 1 that I was in a good place. The best place I have ever been in and best off-season I have had with the RCH Suzuki Team. I was honestly expected to be top five. I really believed that, and then finally a few weekends ago, that is the closest I have got. The races that I finished outside of the top ten, is because I started almost last. I am not very many points behind the top 7, so I think that is a goal to have to try to just keep picking off the races and focus on what I need to. Hopefully to be inside the top seven at the end.
THERE WERE A LOT OF RUMORS ABOUT THE RCH SUZUKI TEAM STRUGGLING TO FIND SPONSORS THIS SEASON; DID THAT AFFECT YOU? Yes, to be honest at times it was tough. I heard the rumors all the time, and it was not from anybody on the team. Justin Bogle andI were doing our normal riding during the week. We were training, testing, and doing everything we would normally do to get ready. There was no sign from our side that there was a chance of the team folding. I feel like the Internet kind of gets away with it a lot now-a-days. Once something gets heard or said, it gets turned into this or that. I am not really sure what the truth was, but we are racing. I am pumped to be here. This whole off-season was awesome. We got a lot of testing in, improved on the bike, and I got a lot of training in.
HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JUSTIN BOGLE, AS COMPARED TO YOUR FORMER RCH TEAMMATE KEN ROCZEN? During the off season, I did more motos with Justin than I had with Ken previously. I did not know Justin that well before he came here. So for me, it was getting to know him a little bit more. He lives in California too, so we have been around each other quite a bit the whole off-season. Ken and I knew each other before he got on RCH, so that played a part in the friendship that I had with him. We were kind of buddies before that, and then when he came to the team, we got even tighter. Even now, I feel like it is the same way with Justin. He is young and only in his second year in the 450 class. He wants to do well and I feel it is good for the program to have to guys that are close to the same speed. It could change any given weekend, so I think it motivates both of us to be the best guy under the tent.
WE NEED TO ASK YOU ABOUT KEN ROCZEN’S CRASH. YOU BROKE YOUR BACK A COUPLE YEARS AGO. AS A RACER, ARE YOU ABLE TO PUT THAT BEHIND YOU? To be honest, all of us get injured—some are more severe than others but we have all done this for so long. When I broke my back it was tough, but I knew in the back of my mind, that I was going to come back, and be fine. With that being said, with Ken and the success that he has had, I don’t see it being an issue. I am sure it is going to be tough and overwhelming at some points, but I do not think it is out of the ordinary. I don’t think he is going to come back and be terrible. That is not what is going to happen. Ken was at such a high level when he got hurt that no matter what, he has that confidence in his mind that he belongs up front.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE PROGRESSING WITH EVERY RACE AND EVERY YEAR? Yes. I always do make progress. I may start out a little slow, and I build and build and build. I am in a good place now. I am trying my hardest and I am happy with my effort. It is not like I am not trying, all I can do, to be honest, is ride the best you can and try to get the best start you can. That for me is what I need to focus on, and not to worry about it too much. I know I work twice as hard as anyone in the paddock, so with that being said, that is kind of how I am going to treat it from here on out.
THE SUZUKI RM-Z450 HAS NOT CHANGED MUCH IN A LONG TIME. IS IT STILL A GOOD RACE BIKE? Yes. It may not have changed a lot but I definitely enjoy riding it. I have only raced the Suzuki 450, other than the Kawasaki 450 that I raced sometime ago. Since I started in the 450 class I never really ridden anything else. Ever since I have been with RCH Suzuki, I have seen progress with the bike. We started with something decent in 2013, got it better for 2014 and in 2015 and 2016 the bike was better. I feel like we made the most gains coming into this year, so it has been good. We haven’t ridden the 2018 models, but the Suzuki MXGP guys have them. I think they are coming over pretty soon, so it will be cool to ride one just to see what it is looking like for the new bike.
YOU HAVE BEEN A BIG PART OF RCH SUZUKI SINCE THE BEGINNING, AND SEEM SYNONOMOUS WITH THE TEAM. I treat it is a job, but I still like to goof off — not in a bad way. They keep me focused on what I need to, and I feel like it is a good bond right now. They know me well enough now to know when to leave me alone, or when to push me. We have grown together and I have learned enough about testing to get the bike in the direction that I want.