Mackenzie picks up podium at Hawkstone Park
Press release Monday 15th June 2009 By Jenni Dick
The determined CAS Honda pilot, who is battling against a combination of a detatched Ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb along with a lack of bike fitness due to an injury filled season so far, was certainly on target for strong results, while Bryan concluded the qualifying stint in 13th place.
In race one it was Bryan who gated well and shot to the front of the field, before settling into a comfortable fourth position, with Billy close behind in fifth.
Before the end of the first lap Billy had overtaken his teammate to take up fourth and by lap two had made a pass on Brad Anderson to hunt down the race leader, Gareth Swanepoel.
Bryan was looking comfortable in fifth when a crash on lap four put him back to seventh, while Billy was making a charge for the lead, closing the gap down on Swanepoel to just a few bike lengths, with Anderson sitting close behind in third. In the closing stages of the 30-minute plus two lap moto Billy stretched enough of an advantage to fend off attacks from Anderson, although with a combination of fatigue in his injured thumb and heavy backmarker race traffic, he was unable to challenge Swanepoel to cross the finish line in second place with Bryan in eighth position.
In race two Bryan got another strong start, while Billy didn’t get out of the gate so well and the two CAS Honda pilots completed lap one in fourth and seventh positions. Billy began a quick surge through the pack to take third place by lap five, while Bryan dropped back to eighth place.
However, by lap seven it was evident that Billy was in trouble, as his lap times increased dramatically and he seemed to struggle around the sandy Hawkstone Park track. The 25-year-old Scottish rider was suffering somewhat with his injured thumb, and dropped back to cross the line in fifth position, which secured third place on the podium.
Meanwhile Bryan dug deep to fight back from a steady opening few laps to cross the line in a solid sixth position to end the day sixth overall.
Billy Mackenzie #211 – Race one: 2nd Race Two: 5th “Although finishing on the podium is good, I can’t hide the fact that today is a disappointment for me. The injury to my thumb means I can’t ride during the week, and part of the plan to come here and race was to keep me in check for the next three Grand Prix events we have coming up, although we definitely came with the intention of winning. In the first race I didn’t get a great gate but got within sight of Gareth (Swanepoel) and settled into a rhythm. I closed the gap right down but in the last few laps I got a bit held up in traffic and didn’t quite have enough to get by him. Race two was certainly one to forget. I got a bad start and gave myself a lot of work to do, but made quite a bit of progress in the first few laps. Then the pain in my hand started, and that was it for me. I held onto fifth but I just couldn’t ride how I wanted to or enjoy my riding, so I just had to hang in there. We’ve been battling injury since the start of the season and it’s a massive frustration for us; I’m disappointed not only for me, but for the team and our sponsors as everyone has put a lot of work in for little reward at the minute.”
Bryan Mackenzie #121 – Race one: 8th Race Two: 6th “I was looking forward to today and the track looked like it had been really well prepared. Practice didn’t quite go to plan for me and I was in the top ten right until the final few moments, before being pushed back to 13th, which wasn’t ideal. I got a good start in the first race and was in fifth place for the first few laps, when someone in front of me blew the berm out just before the finish line and I got a bit cross-rutted then crashed. Once I got going again I struggled a bit with the heat and dropped back a few places, but I kept my head down and managed to get back to eighth. In the second race I pretty much holeshotted until one of the other riders came around the outside, bike sideways and elbows out into the first turn, so I just held onto my position. I was lying third and didn’t really find my rhythm to begin with and faded quite quickly early on. I went backwards, but once I’d settled in I started to work my way through and picked a few people off in the last four or five laps to take sixth, which was definitely a positive end to the day.”
Neil Prince: CAS Honda Team Manager “Today has certainly been interesting. Billy didn’t get good starts to either moto, but in both races he recovered to the top three in the first few laps. In race one he rode smoothly and consistently to control his advantage over third place, although he didn’t have the answer for Gareth, who rode well today. In the second race Billy got up-to third from a poor start, but by mid-race he was struggling and managed to hang onto fifth, which gave him third overall. He was in some pain with the thumb injury he has, but if he’s going to continue riding throughout the next few events, then he needs time riding to maintain his bike fitness, which was our intention with today. I am disappointed with the result, as we came here to win, but there are definitely some positives we can utilise from this race. Bryan rode well today. In the first moto he started well but struggled a little after his small crash.In the second race he recovered after dropping back mid-race to fight for sixth place. His starts have definitely improved too, and hopefully we can continue with this progress in the next few weeks.”