Reigning Bennetts British Superbike Champion Tarran Mackenzie will begin his Bennetts British Superbike title defence for real at this weekend's Oulton Showdown opener.
The McAMS Yamaha man clawed into the top eight at Snetterton with three podiums and now has a 30-point gap to leader Brad Ray - exactly the same deficit he overcame last season to claim the crown.
“For me coming back from injury at the start of the year, my expectations and the team’s expectations were just to try and get into the Showdown so that was a big box ticked at Snetterton. I think for me now anything from now until the end of the season is going to be a big bonus," said the little Scotsman.
“It is one thing to be in the Showdown, but the fact that I am in it and in a position where I can still realistically challenge for the championship is great and anything is a bonus now.
“Oulton Park is a track I absolutely love and I have good memories there from last year for the first round of the Showdown. I unfortunately missed it earlier this year due to injury, but I still think I can go there and have a really good race weekend.
The way I left there last year was good and the bike hasn’t changed too much, so it will be a case of getting back into the swing of things there. Obviously, I left Snetterton full of confidence and as we know in the Showdown, anything can still happen. We just have to take it race by race, like we did last year and see what happens.
“I think Brad is one of the favourites for sure, he is leading the championship and having a really strong year so far. Jason is going to be strong and with his experience and the bike he has underneath him, he can turn it around going into the last three races.
“They are the two that lead the standings, but all of us in the Showdown have won a race or been on the podium and have every chance to do it again over the last nine races. Anything can happen in the Showdown and it is going to be a very exciting end to the year.
“For me and the way the season has gone, to still be in with a chance of winning the championship is great. It’s also weirdly the exact same points that I was off the lead going into the Showdown last year, so it is quite funny how it has turned out.
“It has definitely gone better than expected so let’s see what happens in these next three rounds. I just want to enjoy it and end the year on a high.”