High and dry, wet and wild

Tay­lor Macken­zie gets to grips with the Bathams Su­per­stock bike in change­able con­di­tions as he goes it alone at Sil­ver­stone and Oul­ton...

Performance Bikes (UK) - - RACE BIKES - Pho­tog­ra­phy Dou­ble Red ALEC TAGUE

WHILE MICHAEL WAS at Good­wood, Tay­lor Macken­zie took on the task of up­hold­ing our hon­our at Sil­ver­stone last month. He’d been strug­gling with front-end feel on the S1000RR, but we got to try some pro­to­type parts from K-Tech at the meet. Their 2019 fork in­ter­nals were a rev­e­la­tion – they’ll be on sale next year to the pub­lic, too. Tay­lor said they to­tally trans­formed the bike, im­prov­ing the fork stroke through­out , es­pe­cially at the bot­tom of its travel.

He went fastest in the first free prac­tice ses­sion, over 21 laps, but the rear tyre was start­ing to blis­ter. For FP2, we made some changes to the elec­tron­ics set­tings, end­ing that ses­sion fourth. Know­ing we needed to com­plete a two part, 100-mile race on the Satur­day (two 24-lap runs with a pit­stop be­tween), and a fur­ther 24-lap race on Sun­day, we needed bet­ter tyre life, so opted for the new Pirelli they’d made avail­able from Thrux­ton. Tay­lor was in­stantly bet­ter – he was lap­ping within two tenths of his fastest lap on lap 23 of the ses­sion, at the end of a race sim­u­la­tion, so we knew he had the tyre for the race.

But Satur­day brought rain, which was an un­known for Tay­lor on this bike. We soft­ened ev­ery­thing up, but he had no feel on the wet track. He qual­i­fied four­teenth...

Thank­fully, the track dried for the 100-miler on Satur­day; he went from 14th to fourth with a re­ally ma­ture ride, and in part two got the holeshot and led af­ter turn one. But it all went pear-shaped when he out­braked him­self into turn two... He’d fin­ished part one with less than two litres of fuel, but was straight out for part two with 19 litres. That kind of thing makes a dif­fer­ence. It ended with a sixth-place fin­ish; he was fast, con­sis­tent and fight­ing for the podium. Good lad.

Sun­day’s 24-lap race was dry, and Tay­lor got away fast. We knew Farmer and McCon­nell were strug­gling to make their tyres last, so the plan was a top-three fin­ish. He was run­ning in a strong third place, broke the lap record on two con­sec­u­tive laps... and then a gear se­lec­tor broke. Our sec­ond DNF ever. He couldn’t se­lect third gear, so we just parked it and con­cen­trated on get­ting ev­ery­thing sorted in time for Oul­ton Park the fol­low­ing week­end.

I could have re­placed the se­lec­tor but in­stead we chose to fit a brand new 5.2 BMW en­gine – a re­place­ment for our TT mo­tor – to Tay­lor’s bike. Ba­si­cally, me and Michael opened up a very ex­pen­sive card­board box back at the work­shop that day...

It was wet for all of Fri­day at Oul­ton, and Tay­lor had the same is­sues with feel that he’d ex­pe­ri­enced at Sil­ver­stone. He was out­side the top 30 in FP1 and FP2... We tried softer springs and var­i­ous set­tings but couldn’t make the bike work for him.

Tay­lor weighs 65kg, so we asked Michael what he weighs. He came back with some bull­shit about not weigh­ing him­self in 10 years, but ba­si­cally the ex­tra weight of Rut­ter and his airbag-equipped race leathers must be adding 25kg. That’s why Tay­lor couldn’t get a grasp for the springs.

Thank­fully, there was a dry line for qual­i­fy­ing so we went back to the dry set­ting and he qual­i­fied in third. In Satur­day’s race, we were fourth – the top four were cov­ered by one sec­ond over the line. He was able to use all of the fork travel but strug­gling to make a pass.

But on Sun­day we changed the front end set­ting again. Tay­lor was blown away; he even said to me, “We’re go­ing to win to­day.” True to form, it pissed it down for the race. We didn’t have a wet set­ting, and fit­ting com­pletely dif­fer­ent fork springs would have been a huge gam­ble. In the end, we opted for wet tyres and set­tings mid­way be­tween ‘wet’ and ‘dry’, not re­ally know­ing how the race would pan out.

He sat there in sev­enth for the first half of the race, then slowly started pick­ing rid­ers off. At mid-dis­tance he was the fastest man on track, and he even­tu­ally passed Joe Col­lier for third.

Now all we need is a wet track­day to work things out in the long-term. But it’s good to be back at the sharp end, fight­ing for wins.

‘Tay­lor was blown away. He even said to me, “We’re go­ing to win to­day.” True to form, it pissed it down for the race’

Tay­lor Macken­zie is sit­ting top 10 in the cham­pi­onship, and he’s only raced at three rounds...

With a ma­ture head on young shoul­ders, he chipped away and got on the podium at Oul­ton Park Tay­lor gets his shit to­gether ahead of the race

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