Tarran Mackenzie had his first taste of working with the MIE Honda WorldSSP team at Portimao on Tuesday morning.
While the CBR600RR the 2021 BSB Champion has access to during this week’s WorldSBK test is in stock form, the two days on track at the rollercoaster Algarve International Circuit have certainly allowed him to reacquaint with the smaller class after five years on the BSB-Spec Yamaha R1.
“It was first time on the bike this morning,” Mackenzie told bikesportnews.com trackside at Portimao on Tuesday. “So the bike's still quite standard at the moment, at one point we weren't even due to come to the test just because they wanted to bring a proper supersport bike. So it's still in kind of like a stock version at the moment but for Australia, it will be a full spec supersport bike.
“The important thing for me was just riding the 600 again after having a few years off, and also the injury from September. I hadn't been on track since then so it's nice just to kind of blow the cobwebs off and get back into this style of riding again. The chassis is going to be the same from now to Australia so you can get some kind of base setting going. And also for my teammate, Adam [Norrodin], he's also been on the Superbike, so it's just important to come here, meet everyone and blow the cobwebs off really. There was no pressure to do anything spectacular because it's just in the still quite standard form.
“I think Phillip Island will make a big step and hopefully be competitive.”
2023 sees Mackenzie swap bike, class, team and championship as he takes on the Supersport World Championship, so what is he expecting regarding the switch.
“I think, on a Superbike, especially in BSB-spec because there's no electronics or anything like that, you have to be conscious of riding on the side of the tyre a lot, the tyre life,” he explained. “Whereas maybe here you can ride on the side of the tyre a little bit more so that's probably the biggest thing, the corner exit more than anything. Entry is very similar to the bike that I was riding for the past five years, because the way the chassis was, you could ride it in a kind of 600-style form. So that side of things has been okay but it's more just the exit with a lack of power and maybe me trying to pick the bike up when I don't need to, it's stuff like that, but I genuinely think it won't take so much to get back into riding a 600. I think maybe going 600 to Superbike is a bigger step, coming back isn't so bad. The engine's a little bit slower. It's a little bit lighter, so I don't think it'd be so bad.”
It’s been four months since Mackenzie has been on a race bike after breaking his femur during the second race at Oulton Park last September - concluding his already injury-struck title-defence prematurely.
“I'm actually all right,” the 27-year-old said of his current physical state. “I was surprised myself a little bit. I've worked hard to try and get back to certain level of fitness.
“A lot of people told me that the femur is a big injury to come back from and the rod that I've got in my leg can cause you havoc and the screws and stuff, but touch wood so far, it's been alright and there's no pain or problem.
“The physio work and rehab stuff I've done with my physio Stuart, it's all worked well, so I can't complain at the moment. I've been in Girona with Brad Ray,” he continued, on his off-season training. “We've lived there for about a month now so we've just been working hard. Brad's just dragged me along on all these push bike rides because since my crash, to kind of new year, I did nothing really fitness-wise just because I couldn't. So he's dragged me along on the push bikes and stuff which has been perfect for me. Got a few more weeks till Australia, so see where I'm at at this test and improve things for the first round."