Features 15 Mar 2012

Catching Up: Billy Mackenzie

MotoOnline.com.au speaks to one of the clear MX1 title contenders ahead of the MX Nationals.

As he enters his third year of Australian Motocross in the Monster Energy MX Nationals, Scotsman Billy Mackenzie will have experience on his side come round one at Conondale on 1 April.

The former Motocross GP winner has made himself at home here in Australia and has a large following both here and around the world, adding to the international flavour that we’re lucky enough to experience in the current era of domestic motocross.

MotoOnline.com.au gave the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider a call this afternoon to find out how his lead-up to 2012 is going alongside new teammates Jay Marmont and Kade Mosig.

Billy Mackenzie returns for his third Australian Motocross season in 2012.

Tell us about your off-season, what you’ve been up to and how it’s all coming together so far?

It’s going good. I guess it’s similar to any other pre-season schedule, you know, you do your training, you do your riding and you do your testing. It’s not really much different than before except this time I’ve managed to organise my own track and I don’t really need to rely on anyone to go riding with which makes it all a bit easier.

It just seems like it’s been an easier build-up all-round, really. Training’s went smoothly, I’ve been enjoying that and have noticed big improvements in everything that I’ve been doing. The bike’s awesome, I’ve made a lot of my own decisions with regards to suspension set-up for this year, which I’m really happy about.

All in all, we’ve got a good vibe going. Jay and Kade are great teammates, so it’s a good little vibe.

This year the team has made changes like switching to Dunlop tyres, the suspension is KYB and you also have Renthal handlebars. Do those changes give you a bit more confidence going into the season?

It does, you know, because for a lot of years I’ve used Renthal products and a lot of years I’ve used Kayaba. It’s only really been when I’ve had to switch off of those products that I’ve found myself having problems.

So having Jay onboard has helped me push Troy [Carroll] towards creating a better team and bike for the riders. It seems like Kawasaki have adopted a lot of sponsors from the States and Kawasaki in general worldwide are all starting to use most of the same products which makes it easier for everyone and it’s being proven at the moment in the States with Villopoto.

The bike is easily one of the best out there at the moment, now that we’ve got all the backing, the Dunlops, the ’bars, and everything that follows, the bike feels like a more complete package.

I’ve definitely been having more fun riding it and I feel like my speed has improved with less mistakes, just from feeling more confident in the bike. It just seems like everything’s going well at the moment, so I just hope that I can carry that into the first round.

I noticed that you’ve switched from 211 to number 18 for this year, so what’s the story behind that?

I just got bored of looking at my bike with 211, like I’ve been running that number since 2004. It seems like its the current trend to keep your number these days, but I just remember when I was young, I’d be super excited to see the riders that I looked up to like McGrath, Emig and riders from that era come out with new numbers, helmets, gear, etc, so I just thought I’d change it up.

The last time I used number 18 I had a really solid year, so it’s kind of got a good energy about it and it looks tough. I just like it, I like looking at the bike and get excited to ride it. I had a good year in 2001, so I’m bringing back the old school!

Mackenzie has switched from 211 to number 18 for this year.

This year Brad Anderson is coming to race full time, who is the current British champion, plus we’ve seen guys like Josh Coppins come as well in recent years. Would you sort of say that your arrival here a few years ago started to kick-off that trend?

Well I wouldn’t say I started the whole thing, but I think I’ve had a bit to do with it in the recent years. It’s not often a top rider would leave the world championship behind, in search of riding in Australia, but that’s exactly what I did. I was still in my prime in the world championship at the time, but I just wasn’t really enjoying it over there.

I’ve always made my own decisions and they always seem to work out in the end, so I wasn’t gonna stay somewhere I was unhappy just because I was pressured into it. I made my decision to come here and I haven’t looked back.

It seems like now with Brad coming over, more people want a piece of the Aussie action. Its tough to leave your home behind though, I don’t think its right for everyone. But I don’t know, I don’t want to be the one to say it’s all because of me, but I think I started off a bit of a trend there.

We’re coming up to round one of the MX Nationals in Conondale in a few weeks, so what’s your goal for the season? It’s obviously to win the championship, but can you do that through consistency or do you need to try and win from the outset?

Ah, I’m not going to give away my strategy mate!