The 28-year-old from Edinburgh is the latest high-profile signing for the JCR Yamaha Racing Team and he will race the MX1 class in New Zealand on an immaculately-prepared YZ450F.
He will have a tough task-master with his new boss none other than Josh Coppins, the former Grand Prix racer who swept his way to victory in the Australian Motocross Championships last season, before retiring from racing to take up the reins as team manager.
Mackenzie is also a former GP rider and multiple GP winner and was also British Motocross Champion in 2007 and 2008, as well as representing Great Britain on several occasions at the “Olympic Games of motocross”, the Motocross of Nations.
“I have known Billy for a long time and he started with Yamaha back in his GP days, racing for Steve Dixon in Europe,” said Coppins.
“He will ride all four rounds of the New Zealand Motocross Championships for us, hopefully win the MX1 title here and then go on to race the Australian Motocross Championships later in the year.”
Injury forced Mackenzie to the sidelines in the Australian Motocross Championships last season but he has fully recovered and Coppins has much faith in his new recruit.
“I know he will battle well against the likes of Tauranga’s (defending New Zealand MX1 champion) Ben Townley (Carlton Dry Honda CRF450) and Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Moto City Suzuki RM-Z450).”
Australian hot-shots Todd Waters and Kirk Gibbs, both riding for KTM Australia, will also add an international flavour to the series this season.
“Billy Mackenzie is one of the fastest starters in the world and can get out of the gate and simply check out. He is an awesome rider and hopefully he’ll win a few races in New Zealand this year.”
The four-round series kicks off near Timaru on February 10, with rounds to follow at Patetonga (on February 24), Pukekohe (March 10) and, finally, Taupo on March 31.
Mackenzie will stay at the Yamaha Motor New Zealand training facility at Motueka for the first two rounds and then return to Australia, flying back to contest the second half of the series.
Mackenzie is joined on the JCR Yamaha Racing Team by 28-year-old Queenstown rider Scotty Columb, who will race a Yamaha YZ250F in the MX2 class this season.
“With Billy in the team and Scotty riding as well as he is at the moment, it is an exciting time for me and for Yamaha. I believe we can win both New Zealand titles this year,” said Coppins.
The JCR Yamaha racing team is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, Josh Coppins Racing, Yamaha Motor Finance, Star Moving, Holland’s Collision Centre, Fox, Alpinestars, Atlas, POD, Racetech Plastics, Renthal, DID, NGK, Pirelli, Motomuck, ilabb, Factory Effex, Boyesen, Pro Circuit and Matrix.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com