Tarran Mackenzie scored an impressive yet unexpected fifth place finish at Phillip Island on his debut in WorldSSP with Petronas MIE MS Honda.
To say that the build-up to his first ever WorldSSP race as a full time competitor was tough for Mackenzie is an understatement. A nearly stock CBR600RR, only allowed to compete by special dispensation and awarded only provisional points until the paperwork and parts are all checked properly, was hardly the weapon to be on in a Supersport World Championship field that features potential winners all over.
Losing time in the pits in testing, and then crashing in the sighting lap come the race weekend practice sessions, saw Mackenzie enter almost as a no hoper. He was 19th on the grid but come the rain, come the man, and the recent BSB Champion made up for his slow engine with the ability to pass three riders into the first two corners at one stage…
It is safe to say that never in his wildest dreams, after his practice and qualifying nightmares, would Tarran be looking at himself as a top five rider, rain or no rain. “Not at all,” Mackenzie said with mum Jan standing next to him and dad Niall off to get the coffees, “I think we thought if someone said you’d score 11 points, you’d think maybe over four races if we’re lucky. So to get it in one race is mega!
“To even get some points like that and a top five - which was one of my boxes to be ticked off - so to do that in the first race is amazing. Really pleased.
“Obviously, it was a bit more level playing field with the rain. I could ride my bike a little bit harder. The speed didn’t matter so much because I could make it up in the corners so it was a lot of fun to have because in the dry, I was probably not having as much fun because it was quite demoralising with the speed. It was nice to ride the bike for the first time in the rain and get a good result.”
Did we see Tarran passed by three people down the straight, and by the time turn two had ended, he was back in front of them all?
“Yeah!” He laughed. “I could ride it hard, which was nice. I think in situations like that, I need to make the most of it for sure with the conditions. I just had a lot of fun. For these first few rounds especially, I just want it to rain now and score some more points. Me and Adam [Norrodin] did a little dance this morning. It was good. We didn’t expect it to be like that because it was quite dry, then rain. It wasn’t a normal start to a race. Good fun. Really enjoyed it. So happy for the team.”
Part of Mackenzie’s early top five showing was - like the other top finishers - opting for full wets despite all the delays, on-off rain and general pre-race confusion.
“Full wets,” confirmed Mackenzie. “I could see [Nicolo] Bulega and [John] McPhee who took off, were on that choice. [Stefano] Manzi had an intermediate rear but then he dropped back. So, full wets.”