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Eazi Grip

Tarran Mackenzie and Mick Shanley now aim for top 10 after season best P11 at Assen

The 2021 British Superbike champion hasn’t had it easy but with grit and determination, was in the fight for the top ten at the TT Circuit Assen.

Whilst there’s an abundance of headlines at the front of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field, Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) took a best finish of the year in 11th at Assen, a circuit he knows well. Race 2 saw him fight tooth and nail with factory counterpart Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) and followed him home, just missing out on a first top ten by just 0.103s. However, despite not being able to lay claim to top Honda honours, both he and crew chief Mick Shanley spoke of the work done to be in the position to fight for such positions.

“It was really positive” – The #95 shows strength and potential

Giving an overview of Assen, Mackenzie stated: “It was a stronger weekend overall and the wet sessions just helped me build confidence and it was more of a level playing field. I had some good results, was a bit better in Superpole and closer to the guys in front. In the Superpole Race, I felt like I messed up a little bit; I felt like I could have been stronger in the opening laps but I was determined to have a good start. It made such a difference getting dragged round with the likes of Garrett and Xavi. It was cool from that side; we caught Rinaldi and then it was us three towards the end. I tried my best to pass them both but couldn’t do it; Garrett ran wide and then I managed to get by so to finish right behind Xavi is great, as well as being in the mix and scoring points. It was really positive.”

Detailing the difficulties of 2024, Mackenzie explained how important this result is for him and the team: “It was a struggle for sure and in Australia, we had no testing really compared to anyone else. We didn’t have the bike we’re riding now until the Tuesday before Australia, then I crashed, the weather didn’t help and it was just a bit of a struggle. Having Mick in my corner from the Barcelona test onwards, I made a big step and was a bit closer to the factory guys in Barcelona and had a bit of a better race there. Then, we made another step here even if it was hard. We didn’t get many dry laps so we went back to base setting from Barcelona. In the rain, we were a lot stronger so it was nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel and a bit more positivity lifts the whole morale of the team.

“Everyone’s working hard and trying their best with the package we’ve got. We’re always trying to think of new things and in the wet and dry, try to be quite competitive. OK, it’s not top ten and at the front but I think with what we’ve got, we’re doing a pretty good job. We’ve scored an 11th so for sure, the next goal is the top ten.”

“It’s good to challenge the red bike!” – Shanley talks of fighting with factory Honda at Assen

Crew chief Mick Shanley also spoke of Mackenzie’s progress as he got nearer to Xavi Vierge: “I’m really happy for us; we made a bit of a step in Barcelona and we wanted to continue that here. It’s been tricky with the weather when it’s cold, wet and dry but Tarran handled it really well. It was the first time he had ridden the bike with traction control in the wet so there was a lot for him to learn and take on board. Things came together in Race 2 in the dry and he rode really well all the way through; just trying to judge and understand, setting off higher up the grid with a better Superpole starting place. It’s good for him to see that he can ride with these people and be in the mix to gain confidence from it. If we can keep making steps forwards in each race, it’s good to challenge the red bike!”

Speaking about the belief that Tarran could fight in the P10 to P15 battle, Shanley believes this result is confirmation of that potential: “I kept trying to tell him that and he’s not been so sure but fair play to him, he got a better Superpole with the wet session and it’s shown him that he can be in that group. We’ve gained a lot more data to be running faster for longer so we’ll see what we can learn before next time out. We have two tests – Cremona and Misano – so it’s a chance to have a play with a few things and hopefully make some steps forward.”

“He fully deserves to be out there racing with these guys” – Mackenzie earning his stripes

“I’ve got to take my hat off to him; he fully deserves to be out there racing with these guys and we know he can race inside the top ten. I have full belief in him. It’s been impressive and I think people underestimate just how hard this Championship is. You look up and down the grid and there’s a lot of MotoGP race winners, World Champions… it’s incredible. For him to come here in his first season, with a lot of things to learn from the electronics side, we know that as a manufacturer that there’s still work to do. He’s taken it all in his stride and step by step, it’s good to work away for the top ten.”

Finally, detailing how a result like that can help team morale after a difficult period, he said: “Definitely and not only with Tarran but it’s been a good result in WorldSSP with Kaito Toba grabbing P7. Overall, as a team, it’s good to see everyone packing up with a smile on their face and we can see the progress! Everyone’s always pushing so hard so it’s good for everyone to see a result for all their efforts.”

Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2024 in News

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