So you’ve probably seen the news by now that Broc Tickle will ride with Monster Energy Yamaha for the 2020 Pro Motocross championship, but why has he made the move after seemingly having a deal in place with JGRMX Suzuki? Let me explain...
CHAPTER 1 - TICKLE’S UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES
Let’s back-track a little bit to provide some context on Tickle’s unique set of circumstances, dating back to 2018.
So while racing for Red Bull KTM in 2018, which was a time and opportunity for Tickle to breakout in the premier class as a title contender, he violated the anti-doping code after a positive test in San Deigo, which ended in a two-year suspension.
He’s always maintained his innocence, but unfortunately for him, he lost his gig with KTM and was forced to sit on the sidelines until the Tampa round this year, which is when his suspension ended.
Tickle had continued riding throughout his suspension with the intention of returning to racing, but missing the first six rounds meant there was never going to be an opportunity on a team for him, so he set out to race as a privateer aboard Husqvarna machinery.
Luckily for him, JGRMX Suzuki was in a need of a capable rider to fill-in for Joey Savatgy, and the pair were able to agree on a deal for the remaining rounds of Supercross.
Tickle’s return didn’t go to plan, suffering a hand injury on two occasions before scoring a season-best result of sixth at the final round in Utah.
CHAPTER 2 - THE YAMAHA OPENING
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s enter in the opening at Monster Energy Yamaha.
So earlier this month Aaron Plessinger suffered a dislocated wrist that ultimately required surgery, ruling him out for up to three months.
That essentially sidelines for the majority, if not all of the Pro Motocross championship, forcing Yamaha to seek a fill-in rider for the shortened nine-round series.
Now the pool of riders that are capable of pulling strong results outdoors for Yamaha is quite small, and even though Tickle was thought to be riding with JGR throughout the summer, it appears he was the only name thrown around.
Many fans suggested Benny Bloss, who just lost his fill-in ride at Rocky Mountain KTM, but according to him, there were no serious discussions with Yamaha and he’ll now be riding the outdoors on a Husqvarna in a privateer effort.
CHAPTER 3 - THE DEFUNCT JGRMX SUZUKI PRO MOTOCROSS DEAL
This is where things get interesting - Tickle was understood to have a deal with JGRMX Suzuki for Pro Motocross, but then news quickly surfaced of him testing with factory Yamaha.
So what exactly happened to that said deal? Well, there are a number of factors to consider here.
The first is that JGRMX Suzuki is back to full-strength for outdoors with the return of Savatgy alongside Noren and 250MX contender Alex Martin.
So that in itself already puts Tickle in a tough position - his deal was a guest ride filling in for an injured rider, so when that contracted rider returns, he’s essentially out of a job.
From what I understand, that’s not entirely the situation - JGRMX was still going to provide a bike, and Tickle was seen practicing on a Suzuki up an until last week. But as reported on Swapmotolive, he was responsible for paying for his mechanic.
So while he still may have had a bike to ride, the focus under the JGRMX awning would’ve been on their contracted riders, and it’s likely there was no financial benefits for him to be there.
The situation at Yamaha would be slightly different - he’d have the resources around him throughout the championship, and while it probably wouldn’t be much, there would be some sort of financial compensation for his efforts.
CHAPTER 4 - YAMAHA’S DEAD-END OPPORTUNITY
The Yamaha deal comes at a cost for Tickle, as it’s essentially a dead-end opportunity, meaning it won’t result in getting a ride on the factory team in 2021.
Yamaha already has their hands full in completing its line-up for next year, with just one spot available as its understood Plessinger has a deal in place.
Barcia is at the end of his contract, and Yamaha has two graduates in their wings to also consider, those riders being Dylan Ferrandis and Shane McElrath.
If Barcia has an outstanding season in Pro Motocross, he’s a strong possibility to re-sign, but there are two options Yamaha can look at within their circle, and it’s very likely they’ll be preferenced over Tickle.
Even a stellar outdoor season is likely to be too little too late for Tickle in signing a deal, especially in the current climate where we’re seeing championship take place incredibly late in the year.
In fact, it would probably take Tickle to be a legitimate title contender to earn himself a spot on the team next year, and even then, I just think he’s a slim chance over the other prospects Yamaha has in their sights.
CHAPTER 5 - A WIN-WIN SITUATION
So while it’s a dead-end opportunity, it’s also a win-win situation for Tickle and Yamaha.
Tickle gets a factory bike to ride for the summer, giving himself the best chance of proving his competitiveness in an effort to land some support next year.
Yes, he would’ve been on a factory Suzuki at JGR, but from all indications, there’s a lot he doesn’t need to take care of Yamaha, meaning he can just focus on racing - which will be a massive benefit in his return to form.
He also has the opportunity to keep sponsors happy and in the spotlight - it’s safe to say Yamaha is a much bigger and respected brand in our sport, plus their own media and public relations is leaps and bounds above Suzuki, meaning Tickle’s sponsors will receive much more exposure than if he was at JGR.
For Yamaha, the benefit comes in a very capable rider who will represent their brand well and post strong results.
I can’t see Tickle challenging for wins and podiums week in, week out, but I can seem being a consistent top 10 and even top five guys, especially if he gets some momentum on his side.
The biggest benefit for Yamaha is Tickle’s knowledge and experience that he’ll bring to the table - he’s renowned for his knowledge around testing, which will be a massive boost to Yamaha’s program and development heading into 2021.
So both parties have some benefits and opportunity out of this deal, and that’s why Tickle’s move to factory Yamaha makes perfect sense.
What do you think of Tickle’s transfer to Yamaha?