Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Neills set to ring in the new with young guns

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 6/6/2012: Bike racing legends Randy Mamola, and Kevin Schwantz with Tyco Suzuki team bosses Hector and Philip Neill at this year's Isle of Man TT PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Tyco Suzuki team manager Philip Neill has given his Moneymore-based TAS Racing outfit fresh impetus for 2013 with a raft of new challenges added to the team’s New Year prospectus.

Josh Brookes’ main goal, as expected, will be to win the British Superbike title after narrowly missing out this season, but the laid back Australian will also take in the Isle of Man TT for the first time alongside the inimitable Guy Martin.

There’s also a revised youth development programme taking place within the team which has always been a motivating factor for Neill, with new signings PJ Jacobsen and Taylor Mackenzie – both 19 years of age — being thrust into the melting pot.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with young riders and bringing them through the process,” said Neill.

“We worked with Tom Sykes at the start of both of our British Championship careers and he has gone on to bigger and better things.

“We also helped Michael Laverty reignite his career by taking him to a British Supersport title and he’s just signed a great deal to ride in MotoGP — and we must not forget the likes of Ian Lowry and Alastair Seeley,” he added.

Of his two new signings, it was American sensation Jacobsen who lit up the BSB paddock this year with wins in British Superstock and Supersport, and he has been rewarded, justifiably, with a coveted Superbike ride alongside new mentor Brookes, within the factory-supported Suzuki team – but what of young Mackenzie?

The Scottish born 19-year-old comes from top quality racing stock — his father Niall is a former factory Suzuki and Yamaha Grand Prix rider — and what a lot of people don't realise, he is also a five time British champion.

Taylor is the eldest of the Mackenzie siblings and just this season moved up from the ‘one-two-five’ class at British and GP level to British Supersport.

He acquitted himself well in his debut year, making steady progress with Mar-Train Racing, but is now fired up to be joining the double British Supersport champions, especially having tasted his first bit of action on a GSX-R600 in Spain just last week.

“I can’t wait to get started with the Tyco Suzuki guys and for me March can’t come soon enough,” he enthused.

“I was at Almeria just last week at a Focused Events track day, riding a standard GSX-R600 with temperatures pushing 20 degrees.

“My first impressions of the bike were awesome.

“The GSX-R600 has got a lot more front end feel than the bike I rode this year, and sitting lower in the chassis makes the bike feel a lot more stable on the brakes, and considering it was standard I was also surprised how fast it felt.”

With his young guns at the ready and elder statesmen Brookes and Martin (left) expected to deliver in two different disciplines, on road and track, could 2013 be the year that TAS Racing add to their three British titles and 46 international road racing top steps?

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