Broc Tickle scored a season-best finish of eighth at the weekend’s Oakland SX – round 4 of the 2012 AMA/ FIM World Supercross Championship. Here, the 23-year-old Dodge/ Sycuan Casino/ RCH Racing/ Bel-Ray/ Suzuki rider reflects on the race with co-Team Owner Ricky Carmichael; and looks forward to this weekend’s fifth round at Anaheim; the third time the series has visited the California stadium.
BROC TICKLE – #20 RCH SUZUKI:
A Top-10 finish at Oakland. Do you feel that you are starting to settle in now?
“Definitely. I’ve felt that we’re making progress every week that we go to the track with our Dodge/ Sycuan Casino/ RCH Racing/ Bel-Ray/ Suzuki Z450. I feel like we’ve been making big strides during the week in practice, understanding what I like with the Suzuki and making gains on setups. I’m really just focusing on staying comfortable on the bike, having fun and ride. We’ll work on a few things this week in practice, but our focus is the weekend. We have a lot of racing to do and you don’t want to burn yourself out early in the season. We’re making a lot of progress. I’m going to work hard this week in practice and try to knock-out another top-10 finish.”
You made some set-up changes to the bike at Oakland. What did you work on?
“We actually changed some stuff after the first eight-minute practice. I felt that my Suzuki was too high so we actually pushed the forks up and it made the bike worse. We went back to our original set-up and made some smaller changes that really helped in the heat race. We made a good choice in our change to the bike and we’re actually going to try some more stuff today in practice. We’re gaining on it.”
Has there been a specific area of focus that you and Tony Berluti are working on during race-day?
“Not really. Tony goes off what I’m feeling and we’ve been able to make some great changes to the bike. Our communication is great. If I think that we need to go a certain direction, he’s all for it. Working with him has been easy and we really are starting to understand what I like on the bike. I’ll give Tony my input, he’ll give me his; and we’ll make the best decision we can.”
Your fastest lap time of 57.255 seconds was a top-six and only a 10th slower than third quickest?
“That’s cool. I know that we’ve had speed in the Suzuki all year. Our bikes are fast. We’ve made changes that have helped and I feel like I’ve been able to get into a good rhythm during the race. Our results are starting to show on race day. I just want to stay loose on the weekend, have fun and ride like I know I can. Results will come. I feel like I’m starting to get into a really good rhythm and we’ll just keep working on our race starts, breaking from the gate clean and keeping the bike off the ground early in the race.”
You are back at Anaheim this weekend for the third time in five races. Does that bring any specific challenges to a rider?
“Not really. The dirt is probably going to be hard. The dirt was good for A1 and then they had a Monster Truck event at Angel Stadium. When we came back for A2, the dirt was really different. This weekend, I think that the dirt will be even harder than it was for the first two races in Anaheim. We have a tyre set-up ready to go, anticipating how the conditions will be on Saturday. We’re ready to go. I was nervous to try some tyres early in the season because I hadn’t really run them before. We’ve been testing and right after A2 we had a Dunlop day at the track and found a set-up that I like when the track is hard and slippery.”
What have you seen so far in the 450-class series so far this season after four rounds?
“A lot of inconsistency from everybody. The only guy that has been consistent is Davi Millsaps. He’s been a factor in every race so far this year and that’s why he’s in the position that he’s in. It seems to me that Ryan Villopoto the last few weeks is starting to get back to his winning ways. I think that he’s getting back to where I expected him to be. Overall, the inconsistency of all the riders has been unreal. One weekend a guy finishes fifth and the next he’s 18th because of a wreck.
“It’s been good for us at RCH Racing; and outside of A1 – where we had a throw-away race when we got caught up in Villopoto’s stuff – Broc has been really consistent and helped us points-wise and we haven’t fallen too far behind. With one good weekend, we could be seventh in rider points.”
Broc continues to make improvements at each race. How would you evaluate him through the first month of the season?
“I think that all the pieces of the puzzle are getting closer. The bottom line is he’s getting better, but he’s a little frustrated because he knows how good he can race. He’s improved every week, he knows that he has to start the races better and we’ve talked about that all year. I can see the fire starting to get lit in him and he’s getting better results every single weekend. His best finish last year was a seventh and he almost beat that last weekend in Oakland. I’m interested in seeing where everyone is going to be a few months from now. I like the direction we’re heading. Broc’s fire is lit and I think he’s ready to go and ride inside that top-five, top-six.”
With gate position so critical in the Main Event, is there more emphasis needed in timed-qualifying sessions?
“Absolutely. It all starts in the timed-qualifying sessions. We’re making big strides in the second timed-qualifying session, which gives Broc a good starting position for the Heat. These guys are so close in riding levels that having a good starting position in the Heat and in the Main is really determining who is riding up front. Broc was seventh in practice last weekend’ and if he rode two-10ths quicker, he’d be inside the top five. We’re putting all our emphasis on race starts and making passes quicker.”
Big-named riders were collected again during the first lap at Oakland. What advice can you give a rider like Broc in anticipation of riders hitting the dirt early in the Main Event?
“You have to complete every lap. And as hard as it is sometimes, you have to put yourself in good position, knowing that things are going to get sketchy those first few laps. You really have to focus looking forward and predict what’s going to happen until things thin out. It’s simple maths: you have to be in it to win it. You have to put yourself in the best possible position early in the race to get the best result possible. Every weekend it’s ‘gotten better for Broc and I’m looking forward in seeing how he rides in Anaheim.”