James Mackrel has stepped it up a level in 2019. Always fast, Mackrel’s raw speed seems to have went to another level and he appears to be doing it with less risk.

He was impressive at the Hawkstone International on his 250 and again had good speed at the first British championship round, but at the home events he has been very impressive in his initial races on the 450.

None more so than at Claudy for the first round of the Ulster championship, when he gave Martin Barr a run for his money in race one and was within one turn of going 1-1 in the MX1 class in race two, again not far behind Barr, until Jason Meara barged his way by to steal the win from his grasp!

But it was Mackrel who was the talk of the day, so we caught up with him to get his thoughts on battling with Barr and his strong start to the year.

You must be pleased with your performance today after a good battle with Martin Barr!

Ai, not too bad, not a bad day! The second race I was just fighting with the bike the whole race and the race actually went on a lap longer than what it should have, they didn’t put the flag out at the right time. But I will take the positives away from it and try and get a better set up for next time and come out strong again.

That last corner, Jason Meara got you, did you know he was going to attempt it!?

I knew he was there. It was fair enough, if the gaps open try and get in it, racing’s racing and he got it, so it’s one of them days.

Barr v Mackrel Pic: J McCready

You were close to Barr in both motos, were you able to learn anything from what he was doing, lines and different things?

Yeah, Martin is fast without a doubt. Once he passed us it was hard to hang on, I was kind of done for that race! But I enjoyed it being able to hold him off until three laps to go so I was happy with that and try and build on it and be better for the next round.

I saw you at Hawkstone as well and you were riding really good, you seemed to have upped your level over the winter, is there anything you can put that down to?

I just had a good winter’s training. I broke six ribs which was a bit of a problem, but once I healed up from that I got a good winter under me. Adam Lyons has helped me with training, Adam was a good rider in his day and that has helped me get to the next point.

I saw him talking to you around the track, pointing things out and maybe giving you different ideas?

Yeah Adam is helping a lot, he is showing me lines maybe I wouldn’t have seen just with his experience. Hopefully I can keep building through the year and continue hopefully being strong.

In the British championship are you going to be switching to the 450 or stay on the 250? You seem to be pretty strong on both of them right now!

The British championship I will do on my 250 for Lyons Bros Peugeot, so I will be riding that in the British championship then the 450 at home to try and keep the hours down.

Main image: Ian Cairns

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