Interviews 12 Feb 2013

Catching Up: Billy Mackenzie

Billy Mackenzie speaks out about his brand new CDR Yamaha deal for the 2013 season.

Scotsman Billy Mackenzie has switched teams to CDR Yamaha for 2013, replacing defending MX Nationals champion Josh Coppins on the YZ450F and genuinely looking forward to the season ahead.

Now able to speak about his deal at Yamaha after it was finally announced last week, caught up with BillyMac to speak about CDR, his JCR Yamaha deal in New Zealand and more.

You’re now confirmed for CDR Yamaha, replacing Josh Coppins for the MX Nationals on the defending champion bike. Is this your best shot yet to be Australian champion?

I think looking back my best shot would have been in 2010, when I first arrived. I was fresh off the GP circuit and had a lot of confidence in my riding, but the last couple years I’ve wasted a lot of mental energy and things didn’t go the way I had hoped.

I’m taking things pretty slowly at the moment, just going with the flow and trusting in the team to guide me in the right direction. I wouldn’t like to start talking championships at this point in time, but things have been made so easy for me since joining Yamaha, and after riding the bike for the first time it gave me a massive boost of confidence.

I remember the last time I stepped on a bike that Josh had set up in 2008 and it was a very similar feeling. I landed a British championship that year, so I’ll give it my best shot!

Former GP winner Billy Mackenzie has signed with CDR Yamaha for 2013.

Former GP winner Billy Mackenzie has signed with CDR Yamaha for 2013.

2013 will be your fourth season in Australia after spending three years with Kawasaki. How would you rate the series and competition now compared to back then?

That’s kinda tough to answer. I wish I had been more in the mix the last couple of years to be able to offer my true opinion. I’m sure people around the globe are taking notice of the Australian Motocross Championship and its riders.

I would say the series is heading in the right direction now with bringing back the two 30-minute moto format.

What were your first impressions of the YZ450F and how is it working with CDR Yamaha? Everything you expected?

Everything and more! The bike was awesome from the first time I jumped on it, it was extremely balanced and had a lot of power. I haven’t had to think about anything team or bike related and its made my life so much easier. I’ve not had to pick the phone up and ask for anything, the team is two steps ahead with everything.

In the announcement, Craig Dack mentioned you have a “couple of areas” you needed to “address” and that you have a new attitude. Will we see a new BillyMac this year? What’s changed?

I would say just my motivation and desire, but that works both ways. Joining CDR could have been a little intimidating for some, but after meeting the guys and feeling the vibe of the team, it made me feel the same.

The team’s desire to win is contagious. We are working very well together and I am seeing improvements which make me want to work harder and get back in the winner’s circle.

Part of your deal is to race in New Zealand with Josh Coppins’ new JCR team. That is an ideal way for you to get some momentum on your side…

It is and that’s the reason I’m here. I really respect Josh, I was around when he was in his prime and I can learn a lot from him. Josh and Dack are working closely together and Josh knows the answers to all the questions I have about the bike.

I desperately need race time, I cant remember the last time I raced competitively so the four-round series should give me the perfect little warm-up before the first round in Australia.

Mackenzie has so far enjoyed the surroundings of Craig Dack's factory Yamaha team.

Mackenzie has so far enjoyed the surroundings of Craig Dack’s factory Yamaha team.

Round one was last weekend, you finished a solid second, so that’s a pretty positive start. How was it?

It was strange! I had forgot how to race, from going to the start line, prepping my goggles and looking for lines in between motos. I started off treating it like practice, but as the day went on and as we tweaked the bike I noticed I started to get my teeth into it.

For me personally it was an average day of riding until it came together for the last race. The track was tough, it was a scorching hot day but by the end I showed some old speed and I felt strong on the bike, so its definitely something to build on.

I didn’t expect to be on the podium, but things fell into place nicely. It was a good work out and a fun day.

Can a guy with your experience learn much off a rider like Josh?

You can always learn new things.

Thanks for your time mate, we can’t wait to see the 211 on the Yamaha in our outdoors. Best of luck in NZ.