Taylor Mackenzie has moved to the Moto Rapido Ducati squad for the 2018 British Superbike championship to replace John Hopkins who will sit out the year in order to fully recover from his injuries.

Mackenzie spent last year partnered with Sylvain Guintoli at the Bennetts Suzuki squad and the 2016 Pirelli National Superstock 1000 champion will make his debut on Ducati machinery in 2018 with the Moto Rapido Ducati squad. Mackenzie joins brother Tarran on the 2018 BSB grid who was recently announced as part of the McAMS Yamaha rider line-up alongside 2015 BSB champion Josh Brookes.

Mackenzie is relishing a new opportunity at the Ducati squad after his 2017 campaign was stalled by a number of injuries, while he also paid tribute to the team’s former rider Hopkins.

“I had an up and down year last season; developing a new bike is always a difficult task, even more so in BSB when the racing is at such a high level,” Mackenzie said. “I managed to grab a fifth and a seventh place when I was fit. Unfortunately for me when the big improvements came with the bike I was forced to sit and watch so I didn’t get to reap the rewards of the development work that we’d done throughout the year.

“I’m really excited to be riding a Ducati, it’s my first time riding one and a different style of riding to what I’m used to but we’ve got plenty of testing to get stuck into before the season starts so I can get to grips with it. I rode with John at points last year and was always blown away by how fast it was so I’m very excited to get the chance to ride one.

“It doesn’t really feel that strange for us because we’re best friends off the track and we train and ride together almost every day. We’ve helped push each other to be better than we ever would have been on our own. When I won my championship two weeks before Taz there was no way on earth he wasn’t going to win his. People keep asking me if I’m worried about him being in the same class but it’s not me that should be worried because I know how fast he is

“I’ve got a completely new challenge ahead of me with a new bike so I’d like to start with finishing inside the top ten and then keep chipping away all season. I’ve raced in BSB long enough to know how hard it is and there’s no guarantees with racing either so we’ll just keep our heads down as a team and work as hard as we can. Everything is in place for me to have my best year yet so I’ll be doing everything in my power to make sure it is.”