"If you come in, I’m not changing your tyres!" - Mackenzie's HILARIOUS story to maiden win

Tuesday, 1 August 2023 05:32 GMT

Rookie Tarran Mackenzie was full of praise for his team after his Race 2 victory – including the mechanic whose words helped make his inspired tyre choice for him

Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) secured a sensational maiden FIM Superport World Championship victory in Race 2 as he a slick tyre gamble in the rain paid off as it fell at the Autodrom Most. After starting from towards the back of the grid, the Brit surged up the order in the wet conditions as other riders opted to pit to give him his first WorldSSP victory and Honda’s first since Lusail in 2016.

The #95 took 22nd in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole and finished Race 1 in 17th, narrowly missing out on his first points since the Indonesian Round. However, it was Race 2 where Mackenzie made his mark as he took advantage of wet weather conditions, while remaining on slicks, to move up the field and claim victory in his rookie season. It was also Honda’s first since returning to the Championship, and their first in seven years when Kyle Smith won at Lusail at the end of the 2016 season.

Starting from 22nd, Mackenzie remained out of points contention until Lap 8 with him running as high as 16th in the early stages of the race. As the rain got heavier, and his rivals opted to pit, Mackenzie decided to stay out with the 2021 British Superbike champion making progress. He used his experience to avoid making mistakes and soon surged up the field and took the lead on Lap 11 of 19 where he remained despite late-race pressure from his rivals.

On Lap 13, he had Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 8.680s behind him and, with the track drying, Schroetter’s pace was quicker than the Honda star’s lap times. The gap was 7.764s a lap later before the German only took a tenth out of Mackenzie on Lap 15. The gap reduced from 7.362s to 5.765s at the end of Lap 16 and again to 3.317s on Lap 18, but the Brit was able to hold on by just two seconds at the end of the race for a sensational maiden victory.

Reacting to his first win, ‘Taz’ said: “It’s a special day for the whole team and everybody involved. I have to thank Midori and the Petronas MIE Honda team. It’s been a very difficult season, not just for me but my teammate and the whole team. We expect the package to be a little bit stronger than it is but, every weekend, we’re improving. This weekend, we made a small step which allowed us to fight a little bit more. It was a fun race. I didn’t expect to be near the front. When I saw the rain, I thought, ‘this is my chance to get some points’. Maybe not win but get some points! I got into the lead, I just had to focus and count down the laps. To win was amazing.”

The Stirling-born star also expanded on his choice to not change tyres. He added: “It wasn’t a difficult decision because my mechanic, Robert, told me on the grid, ‘if you come in, I’m not changing your tyres! You just need to go around and circulate and keep heat in your tyres’. I have to thank him. We give him a hard time in the garage but he’s always passionate. He told me to not come in and keep riding around like WorldSSP300 Race 1 where the winner kept circulating and heat in his tyres. I had this in my mind the whole time. When I pulled out two seconds, I just kept going and pretended there was no rain. The gap went to around eight seconds at one point. It was hard to believe, I didn’t know what was going on!”

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