2016 Pirelli National Superstock 1000 champion Taylor Mackenzie will return to the 2018 British Superbike Championship this season, joining the Ducati dealership-based Moto Rapido Ducati team.
The team scored multiple podium finishes in last year’s championship with John Hopkins, who continues his recovery. The Winchester based team are now looking ahead to their opening pre-season test in Spain next month, determined to build on their previous campaign with further updates from Ducati Corse.
Mackenzie returned to the premier class in 2017 following a title-winning season in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship, where he lifted the title after winning six races and scoring a further two podium finishes.
Mackenzie said: “I had an up and down year last season; developing a new bike is always a difficult task, even more so in BSB when the racing is at such a high level. I managed to grab a fifth and a seventh place when I was fit. Unfortunately for me when the big improvements came with the bike I was forced to sit and watch so I didn’t get to reap the rewards of the development work that we’d done throughout the year.
“I’m really excited to be riding a Ducati, it’s my first time riding one and a different style of riding to what I’m used to but we’ve got plenty of testing to get stuck into before the season starts so I can get to grips with it. I rode with John at points last year and was always blown away by how fast it was so I’m very excited to get the chance to ride one.
“It doesn’t really feel that strange for us because we’re best friends off the track and we train and ride together almost every day. We’ve helped push each other to be better than we ever would have been on our own. When I won my championship two weeks before Taz there was no way on earth he wasn’t going to win his. People keep asking me if I’m worried about him being in the same class but it’s not me that should be worried because I know how fast he is!
“I’ve got a completely new challenge ahead of me with a new bike so I’d like to start with finishing inside the top ten and then keep chipping away all season. I’ve raced in BSB long enough to know how hard it is and there’s no guarantees with racing either so we’ll just keep our heads down as a team and work as hard as we can. Everything is in place for me to have my best year yet so I’ll be doing everything in my power to make sure it is.”
Team Owner Steve Moore commented: “We are very excited to have secured Taylor for the 2018 Superbike season. While the official Hopper news was recent, John had been keeping me updated of progress through winter and realistically we knew it would be asking too much to get back to racing so soon. Our plan was always Hopper for two seasons and while we kept the ride open as long as possible for him, I have to thank John for his honesty and making the tough decision not make the start of the season.
“So I had been speaking with other riders and Taylor had been on our radar since last year. I like the idea of a new generation of British riders bringing a new wave of talent into BSB so Taylor fits well with our plan. He clearly knows how to win a title as Superstock champion and his couple of BSB seasons are valuable experience.
“Now it’s time for him to be part of a team where the focus is entirely on him and his development. I’m sure we have the package of bike, team and technical ability to bring him to the next level and stand on the podium.
“We have a testing plan that starts in March in Spain which is when he’ll see the Ducati and meet the team for the first time. We have some more updates from Ducati Corse this season and I’m looking forward to the first test. We’ll be doing our best to continue our teams progress, score more points that last season and make Taylor a Superbike contender, which will probably mean I can’t afford him for 2019, but we’ll discuss that when it happens!”