Billy McConnell says he's intrigued to see how the dominant Yamaha R1 bike handles and is confident their combination can be a potent double team, after joining Anvil Hire TAG Racing for the 2016 MCE British Superbike season.
The 2014 British Supersport champion is looking to solidify his position in the Superbike class after returning to the premier class last year with Smiths Racing BMW, finishing the season 15th in the riders' standings having claimed a maiden BSB rostrum at Cadwell Park.
McConnell says he never completely settled on the BMW S1000RR due to crashes and mechanical DNFs which stalled his campaign and decided to make to return to his former team TAG Racing as it switches from Kawasaki to Yamaha in 2016 – the bike which Josh Brookes stormed to the 2015 BSB title on.
“The Yamaha looks like it behaves more like a World Supersport bike so I think we can be a little bit more aggressive on it and I am hoping that helps me out a bit,” McConnell told crash.net. in an exclusive interview.
“We are aiming for top ten and if we can make the Showdown it would be unreal, but it is hard because you want to say one thing and what could actually happen is a different thing so I think if everything clicks with the team and the bike I don't see why we can't be a top six contender.”
A decade ago, McConnell rode a previous generation of the Yamaha R1 in the 2006 British Superbike championship and is also experienced on the R6, finishing runner-up in British Supersport in 2009. He is hoping his previous feeling with the Japanese machinery will help him adapt to the new bike during the winter tests.
“I just think from watching it and knowing Yamahas they are naturally a nosey bike,” he explained. “They are very front-end pushy and I still carry that old habit from 600s when I try to push the front more than sitting up and trying to get out on to the rear so hopefully the corner speed should suit my style.
“We will have to wait to see what kind of level we are at those first tests, it might take a little bit longer or we might hit it off straightaway. With the depth of the BSB field you are always going to get ups and downs too.”
McConnell has joined Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha alongside new team-mates James Rispoli and Shaun Winfield for the 2016 British Superbike championship.
Click here for the full exclusive interview with Billy McConnell