An exclusive interview with new Anvil Hire Yamaha rider Billy McConnell who explains how his deal to join Anvil Hire Yamaha came to fruition, reflects on his successful 2015 and his goals for next season in BSB.

Crash.Net:
Hello Billy, congratulations on your new deal with Anvil Hire Yamaha. How did the new deal come about?

Billy McConnell:
I've always kept in contact with the team after I rode for them in 2011 and we've always been in touch throughout the years and then Rob came to me and told me what their plans were and with my previous team they still were not sure what they were doing for next year so I was out looking for a ride as well. Rob Winfield told me the plan and I was really excited about the deal with the new Yamaha working well everywhere in the world. It was a bit of a no brainer really.

Crash.Net:
So by the sounds of things you didn't need too much convincing to sign?

Billy McConnell:
We had a chat to make sure everything was going in the right way with the bike, such as what sort of suspension we would be running - we will be running K-Tech and obviously I am very familiar with their stuff having used it this year. Then everything just fell into place so I am now really looking forward to it.

Crash.Net:
You will not be part of the only new Yamaha squad with Tommy Hill's team also on the 2016 grid. Are they a special target in the early rounds of the season?

Billy McConnell:
I think with Yamaha unless it is a factory thing it all goes through a dealer anyway so it is down to in-house knowledge and what we can pick up from previous and other teams. I think Yamaha always try to help out any team as much as they can to a degree. But with the BSB rules it is sort of limited anyway with only chassis stuff we can take from the World Superbike squad as we run the M-Tech electronics and that sort of stuff. It is all going to be about learning this year.

The team are learning a new bike and have a really good testing plan set out so hopefully we can get out on the bike before Christmas, not the full Superbike-specification but a Superstock 1000, to get a feel for them and get a direction we know we need to go in before we go into the proper testing in January on it.

Crash.Net:
What are your initial expectations adapting on to the new R1?

Billy McConnell:
I think the expectations are you always want to keep improving. I got one podium this year and would like to get a few more next year but the depth of BSB is really tough so in my second year I will be a bit wiser. 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. 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. 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.

Crash.Net:
You've mentioned in the past that the Yamaha R1 should suit your riding style, why is that?

Billy McConnell:
I just think from watching it and knowing Yamahas they are naturally a nosey bike. 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.

Crash.Net:
Looking back at 2015 in the British Superbike championship with Smiths Racing, how would you rate your year?

I think for what we set out to do in our first year in Superbikes for a long time we had a lot of positive steps in the year and I think maybe but a lack of pressing on during the middle of the year when the team was at the Isle of Man TT, we missed a few opportunities to push our bike on. I think for Smiths Racing and myself we had a pretty good year. We had a few DNFs here and there from myself and also some technical ones which cost us in the championship, but we kept aiming for the top ten, top six and we got more than a few top sixes and one podium. Overall, I didn't want to set the goals too high for where we were going to be and we chiselled away to get there.

Crash.Net:
You grabbed your maiden British Superbike podium at Cadwell Park this year to produce your high of the season. What were your feelings after the triumph?

Billy McConnell:
That was a big moment for the team, it was the teams and my first podium. We hoped that it would be a turning point but you know the depth of field in BSB is so strong so you always have to be on the top of your game and everything has to be right up there. You can't give an inch because the whole top 20 riders are so close with some riders coming from other championships having done really well.

Crash.Net:
What can you take from 2015 into the new season with Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha?

Billy McConnell:
I will take the knowledge into the testing so we can gain as much as we can with the new parts and everything we get straightaway so we can hit the ground running. Everything already looks in place, we've already got the bike done and other stuff is already bang on. Personally I'd like to get into the Showdown, which would be unreal. It is a massive goal for myself and like I said if I could chisel away at a few podiums that would be even better.

 

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