Niall Mackenzie Column - May 10

He knows the ropes when it comes to Superbikes and our parsimonious pundit fervently believes both World and British series will be things of great wonder and entertainment

Posted: 20 May 2010
by Niall Mackenzie

Thank the Lord the racing season is now finally back in full swing.  More bikes on TV is fantastic and more importantly this should mean less telly space for the irritating Jedward twins; Okay,  t...s.  Robert Matthew Van Winkle might not have had the coolest name on the block but the original white rapper (and handy moto crosser) ‘Vanilla Ice’ certainly didn’t deserve to have his 1990 classic ‘Ice Ice Baby’ ruined by two talentless muppets. Come on Dublin, you used to give us the likes of U2 and Thin Lizzy, where did it all go wrong?

The World Superbike Britfest is of course up and running and looks like keeping us glued to our tellies until the final round in October. That said, we have some big names coming home to roost in BSB that should make the 2010 series one of the best ever. Unlike last year, we have ex-BSB champions on the grid and they both intend (and are expected) to bring their respective team’s glory. Ryuichi Kiyonari had flashes of brilliance during his two years in WSB but his inability to learn tracks quickly held him back along with some nasty injuries. It will be good to see him back in the UK, but after a very average 2009 there will be pressure as HM Plant Honda will be desperate for wins from both Kiyo and his hard riding Team mate, Josh Brookes. Let’s hope the winter re-chip at HRC HQ proves successful.

l know 2000 champ Neil Hodgson is as hungry as ever and is desperate to put Rob Mac’s Motorpoint team at the top of the rostrum. I’ve known this man for 17 years now and there is no one scarier when he is focused and no one as angry when he gets beat. The last time he was fit he could match Mat Mladin’s pace in the States and the only Superbike rider I’d rate above him in the world would be Ben Spies. Neil used to give me some stick about being the oldest rider on the grid. Funny how the years fly past buddy! 

Another good friend and one time BSB pupil of mine returning, is fag smoking, whisky drinking, Yukio Kagayama. Yuki has beaten the absolute shit out of his body throughout his career but he’s as fit and fresh as ever, and as we saw back in 2003/2004 when he is in the mood the opposition will struggle. Throw Stuart Easton (at last – another Jock), Tommy Hill, James Ellison and Simon Andrews into the mix and only a brave man or Mystic Meg could predict a winner.  So there you go, eight riders truly believing it’s a mere formality they will be crowned King of BSB in 2010; let’s light the blue touch paper and stand well back.

You might have seen me on playing around on some KTM off-roaders recently. And I’m so glad this opportunity came along as I’d forgotten how much fun and satisfaction there is to be had in a muddy field. You can crash with no damage or injury all day long while getting fit and honing skills along the way. You can’t ride off-road without improving your throttle control, braking and body position and you’ll never laugh with your mates like this on a road ride. You might wake up the next morning with some scratches and bruises but it will be nice pain and you’ll be unlucky to damage a bike. Six of us fool around regularly now on Honda XR100 Hondas and Yamaha TTR125s and a better day out I couldn’t recommend. Cheap as chips to buy plus unbreakable; this activity has Scottish written all over it.

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