Interview: James Mackrel!

It’s a big year for James Mackrel as not only is he competing in the Ulster Championship but he has also took part at the first two rounds of the Spanish Championship as well as the first round of the MX Nationals. Racing outside of Ireland will help improve Mackrel as a rider.

Mackrel goes into the Ulster Championship as one of the favourites for the MX2 title but he has some stiff competition. At the first round he managed to secure to third place finishes and a DNF due to the tyre falling of the rim. At least that should be his bad luck out of the way!

We sat down with Mackrel after the first round of the Ulster Championship to talk about his season so far.

Gatedrop: James, we are here at the first round of the Ulster championship, you didn’t have the best of luck but the speed isn’t too bad, can you talk me through your day?

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James Mackrel: Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. In the first race I struggled with the handling of the bike. In the second race I think I was in third but then I got a rear wheel puncture and the tyre fell off the rim with about four laps to go so that was a DNF. In the last race I was third and I managed to stay there even though I got another rear wheel puncture about half way through the race. I didn’t have much luck today as you said.

Gatedrop:  The first two races you maybe didn’t show your best speed but you rode better in the last race, it must be good to end the day on a high?

James Mackrel:  Yeah, I am happy enough. If I didn’t get a puncture I probably would have done a bit better.  It is how it is, it’s racing so we will just get on with it.

Gatedrop: You have made a full-time switch to the KTM machine for this year, how is everything going with the KTM?

James Mackrel:  It’s not too bad. I am struggling with the front of it just a bit. In the second race, I changed to spring forks so it’s better now but it’s still a far way away from being sorted.

Gatedrop: You have contested the first two rounds of the Spanish Championship, how did that opportunity present itself?

James Mackrel:  Davy Dickson basically just sent me a text on facebook to see what I was up to and what I was doing this year. From there on that was pretty much it.

Gatedrop: How did the first two rounds go for you?

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James Mackrel: In the first round I sort of struggled with energy, I wasn’t eating enough food and I burnt myself out half way through the race. At the second round I was going better but just the usual, no luck.  They haven’t had dry weather over there either.

Gatedrop: You obviously haven’t raced much outside Ireland, it must be nice to get away to race new competition and tracks. What were the tracks like compared to anything else you’ve ridden?

James Mackrel:  It’s enjoyable. The tracks are rough and rutty, you wouldn’t think it being in Spain. It’s good doing something different instead of just racing at home all the time.

Gatedrop: There were a few GP and EMX riders competing in Spain such as Larranaga, Van Berkel, Haavisto and Ivanov to name a few. It must have been great to race with them and you must have learnt a lot?

James Mackrel: Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. When you go to a practice track most of them are there as well so that’s good. It’s good riding with faster riders as you get a bit more experienced.

Gatedrop: Are you going to compete at the rest of the Spanish Championship or is it still to be decided?

James Mackrel: I’m not too sure yet what’s happening to be fair but we will work it out.

Gatedrop: You also competed at the first round of the MX Nationals, how did that go for you and will you contest the rest of the series?

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James Mackrel: I am just going to try and get to what I can at the minute and we will see how it goes. It was definitely good getting away to England, I haven’t been over there in a while and I really enjoyed it anyway.

Gatedrop:  What’s your goal for the rest of the season?

James Mackrel: Just basically to finish races (laughs). We will just see how we get on and take it as it comes.

Gatedrop: You missed the first Irish round but obviously raced here today at the first Ulster, do you have a plan of what you will be racing at home yet?

James Mackrel: We will be doing the whole Ulster Championship. With the Irish I will probably just do the ones that I am about for. That’s about it really.

Gatedrop: The Ulster Championship have introduced a Superpole, what’s your thoughts on it?

James Mackrel:  I think it’s a good idea. It makes the day last longer and it gives you a better chance to improve the lap that you put in during qualifying. So, yeah, I think it’s a good idea.

Gatedrop: In the Ulster class this year, would you say it’s maybe a bit deeper than last year? McCaw and Sheridan look to have stepped it up and Luke Smith is riding at home again, the class is maybe a bit tougher than what it was last year?

James Mackrel:  Yeah, everyone is definitely going well. It’s good to see riders like Cailum (Meara) moving up as well too as they don’t usually come up. It has definitely made it better racing, it’s good with all the 250’s but I enjoyed riding with the 450’s as well.  The class this year is definitely a faster pace than last year that’s for sure.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry