After a frustrating rookie MCE British Superbike championship campaign in 2015 and his racing future on the brink, Taylor Mackenzie turned his hand to the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 championship and clinched an emotional title with Buildbase BMW.

Mackenzie sticks with Hawk Racing for 2017 ahead of his return to BSB with the new-look Bennetts Suzuki squad and world title-winning team-mate Sylvain Guintoli.

In an honest and eye-opening interview, Mackenzie tells us what it's like to have a famous racing father, having a brother for a best friend and how racing in 2015 almost pushed him away from the sport for good.
I'm guessing your training routine has picked up a bit recently?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Actually my brother and I have always taken our training seriously and we've always looked after ourselves. Since last year we've had a personal trainer and I train at a Gym near Loughborough University with him pretty much every day.

Before working with him we had to do bits and pieces ourselves whereas now it's at a different level. I'd say it's a lot more intense and structured this year.
Is there a feeling that this year may be a turning point in your career?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Oh definitely.

Last year was a massive year for me because I told myself before the year started that it was make or break for me and if it didn't happen then I would just finish racing. I didn't want to be there to make up the numbers and needed to have some prospect of winning. I really gave it everything I had and ended up winning the championship.

I like to think that I showed what I was capable of last year and this year is more about cementing that and proving that it wasn't a one off. I want to show that I'm a top-level rider.
I think the thing I noticed about your riding this year was a very aggressive style.

Taylor Mackenzie:
From the outside I've heard a few people say that but it's never been something I've based myself around.

I'm actually quite a placid person off the bike, I don't like arguments or conflict or anything, but maybe I get a bit of red mist when the visor comes down.
As Josh Brookes said, you're not out there to make friends, right?

Taylor Mackenzie:
When I was younger I loved racing partly because of the number of friends I had around the race track and there was a lot more of that aspect to it then. I don't know whether I was a little na?ve because at the end of the day it's a job for all of us and we're actually after each other's.

From the friends point of view, it's great for me because I've got Tarran with me and he's both my brother and my best friend. We both know that we've got each other's backs.

Outside of that I think it's hard to get along with other riders sincerely because when it comes down to it you'd do the same to them as they'd do to you, it's all about winning. If that means you can't be best friends with everyone then so be it. I know that at the end of the race I can always go back to my family and they'll look after me no matter what.

Also now I've got a great team behind me which gives me a proper base to work from.
To what degree is your father involved in your career?

Taylor Mackenzie:
When I was younger he'd be there every race giving me pointers because there was a lot more he could teach me then because I was so green to the sport. As I've got older though I've started making more of my own decisions and he has stepped back a bit.

I think the three racing Mackenzies and my mum are quite unique and lucky in that we all get on all of the time, we hardly ever fall out. I've been racing since 2007 and I've only had one major disagreement with my dad and all that while traveling the world together and doing everything else. It's a really great relationship.

This year for example he always went out to spot for me and my brother and usually tries to do every corner. I think that this year with the Superbike though he's going to be a lot more involved than last year because there's a lot more to the bike.

Also we're going to be developing a new bike so his experience will be needed there.
Are there any disadvantages to having such a well-known father?

Taylor Mackenzie:
People always used to think it was easy for me when I first started because my father would give me everything but it really wasn't like that. It actually seemed to work in the opposite way because everyone used to think 'Oh yeah, it's young Mackenzie, he'll be alright, he doesn't need anything'.

I've had to fight as hard as anyone else to find and keep sponsors though. Also I've had some pretty tough years in racing and my dad certainly hasn't ridden the bike for me, there's only so much he can do. The performance on track can only come from me.

His influence is not only that he's a good racer but also that he's a good parent in general. It's not so much him being a Niall Mackenzie it's more that he's part of a really supportive family.
So where did the impulse to race come from?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Well I was in the paddock from three months old but I didn't really have the desire to race bikes until I was 14.

When I was at school there wasn't anyone riding bikes and the cool thing to do was to play football and all the other school sports and I was just a jack-of-all-trades doing those.

My father never pushed us into racing but there were always bikes around at home and we kind of absorbed all the knowledge you needed to race by osmosis so when we did come around to doing it the knowledge was all there.

You've got to race from an early age and that background of racing knowledge helped me to get started early mentally. I think dad just kind of provided that background without realising it.

So at 14 I had a minimoto that I'd ride in the back garden and just couldn't get my knee down and was determined to do it so we went to a go cart track just so that I could scrape my knee. It was at that knee down session that I kind of got hooked. We always say that we would have saved an awful lot of money and stress if we hadn't gone to that session. Now I wouldn't change it for the world.
Have you been able to make any kind of living at it?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Racing has changed so much in the last 20 years because when my dad was racing there was a lot of tobacco money in the sport and there was so much less financial stress involved. It used to be much better funded.

Now we're just about breaking even as a family and I've had some incredible sponsors over the years that have looked after me through thick and thin. Captain cover and RST leathers have been there from the start of my career but Chandler at MPS Aviation is my biggest sponsor for the last few years and has looked after me no matter what. Recently I've also been lucky enough to find some sponsorship from ePayMe and they've been great too. Without them I simply wouldn't be here.

I've also done plenty of other jobs in between for example designing leathers for RST for a year but one of my main sources of income is doing track days. I work at the Ron Haslam school and also with James Whitham. Apart from that it's a case of always being on the lookout for sponsors.

I've become a bit of a wheeler dealer because I'm always on the lookout for ways to keep me racing a bike. The dream is to race bikes for the rest of my life and I really need to make that happen.

In our family it's a bit obsessive and there isn't a day goes by where we're not discussing bikes, whether it's about riding them , buying them, training for them or tinkering with them. It's my mum I feel sorry for because I imagine she thought that when dad finished racing she could forget about bikes and maybe take a holiday but it hasn't worked out that way - she's still stuck at Knockhill in the rain!
I've noticed you racing as number 11 and 77

Taylor Mackenzie:
I actually race as 77 but whenever I get to BSB I find that James Ellison's nicked my number.

So I raced as 11 last time in BSB but that didn't work out so well so I'll be racing as number 6 next time because my dad raced with that number in GP's. I don't really want to race as anything other than 77 but you're kind of pushed into it because the old fart's sticking with it . So I'll do everything I can to beat him this year so I can have it off him next year but he doesn't know that yet!
So you were going to give up?

Taylor Mackenzie:
We got to the middle of 2015 and it was a never-ending cycle of bad results and things going wrong. I've always put my absolute heart and soul into what I do because it's all we do in my family so I took that quite hard.

At the time my brother was doing well and you can't help comparing yourself. I've always though I could ride a bike alright and couldn't understand why it was going so well for him and so badly for me. The flip side of course was the feeling that if he could do it then I could as well but the contrast just got too great.

There came a point after I'd been set on fire at Snetterton that I started to wonder why I was doing it, why I was putting myself through so much heartache. I wasn't taking any money out of it and if I put the amount of heart and soul that I was putting into racing into another job I'd certainly be getting something.

It got to Knockhill and I'd had further problems there so we sat down in the caravan together and I was in floods of tears. At that stage dad just asked me if I wanted to stop because he couldn't stand seeing me like that. I remember the moment though because my brain just wouldn't let me say 'yes'.

It was horrible for my family seeing me like that but I couldn't say no so I did what I could for the rest of the season. It was all about not giving up. At the end of the year my best result was 16th and that put my back up against the wall.
But at the time you were racing in superbikes weren't you?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Yes that year I'd been unable to get a good ride in Supersport, so I thought I'd give it a go in Superbikes, you get more track time, you learn more and at the time WD40 didn't have a rider so it came together like that. In January I literally didn't have a ride so I was grateful to them for helping me out but it didn't work out between the two of us.

That year kind of crushed a lot of confidence out of me and I became a bit paranoid about things going wrong. Then I got to Cadwell Park and got appendicitis on the Thursday and had to come back two weeks later being unable to tense my stomach muscles for the next race.

At the end of that year me and dad sat down and decided that the best thing to do would be to try and get a stock 1000 bike for the next season where the playing field is really level and if that didn't work out I'd go and do something else.

Hudson Kennaugh lent me his 1000 to do a track day and the bike felt really comfortable and I felt I could compete on it. It was a kind of secret test before the last round. So we decided to try it.

We also got into contact with Steve and Stuart Hicken at Buildbase BMW because they're kind of a local team to me and I think they were receptive because I came from close by. I soon noticed that they go racing for the exact same reasons that I do, they just love riding bikes, there's no rubbish. We got on straight away.
On paper maybe the Kawasaki would have been an easier bike to make competitive?

Taylor Mackenzie:
As far as I can see all the stock bikes nowadays have 200bhp and good electronics so it's mainly the people around you that make the difference.

People have the habit of following the herd so if someone's winning on a bike then everyone moves to that bike but I think with the right people you can be competitive on any of the bikes.
... and now you've got the Suzuki BSB ride in the same team as Sylvain Guintoli.

Taylor Mackenzie:
Yes, that's a continuation of the same team in that I'm still effectively racing for Hawk Racing.

Steven and Stuart came to me and said they'd managed to strike a deal with Suzuki. It was quite secret at this point but when we went through the bike on paper it seemed unbelievable.

For me to get a factory backed superbike alongside Sylvain Guintoli was like a dream come true and was such a turnaround after the hard year I'd had two years before.
But you'd already started the turnaround with your championship winning year.

Taylor Mackenzie:
Yeah definitely, it was like night and day.

Going to BSB with this bike will be so different to last time. Last time I was hoping to score points but this year the attitude isn't to make up the numbers, it's to get results.

I'm so grateful to the team because they've given me these two opportunities when there were so many other riders banging on the door. It was the confidence from that winning year that allowed me to go forward with this.

From the outside it looks like there are maybe 25 other superbike riders who are capable of winning races and it must have been a tough choice for them but I'm now confident I can get this done and the team are too.
There was certainly a lot of confidence about how you raced last season.

Taylor Mackenzie:
Honestly I feel like I've always kind of raced like that but it just wasn't shown on TV.

I came into the season telling myself I'd win it, it was do or die and when it came to the end I almost felt as if that's how it was always going to be. At the beginning the team were talking about top five maybe but in myself I was going for wins. After Silverstone the confidence was so high and we were on the money every race. It's amazing how much of bike racing's emotional.
Have you tried the new Suzuki yet?

Taylor Mackenzie:
I've had a quick ride on the road bike and it was great. I was the first one to ride it in the UK so it was a big thing.

The nice thing is that it felt exactly like a GSXR but better. It's great that it keeps that GSXR feel.

The stock bike has also got all the electronics you need like launch control and auto blip and Richard Cooper's going to have a great year on it in Superstock trim as well.

I think we'll get to ride the superbike some time at the end of February or in March when we go to Spain for the proper testing. Stuart Hicken, the guy who owns the team, also has shares in Mallory Park so that means we can also do some testing there.
Is there any official Suzuki involvement?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Yeah absolutely we're the official team. We've got a direct link to Japan and we've got Yoshimura on board as well who'll be supply some parts. It's a big thing for the team.
...and the team?

Taylor Mackenzie:
I'll have Steve Hicken as my crew chief like I did last year and the exact same equipment as Sylvain. It's good for me because even though we're changing bikes everything else will be the same and in a way we're just changing colours.

Sylvain's the perfect crew mate because he's got massive experience on a wide variety of bikes and he's only there to win the championship so I can watch and learn. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to beat him and he'd be a great scalp for me but I'm there to learn as much as I can.

I like the team though they're local and it feels like dads and lads racing. In a proper BSB set up you can feel a bit left out and alone but there you're very much involved and part of everything, for example this year I'm getting involved with the bike and truck design. We're pretty much on the phone to each every day and they're only about 10 minutes away.
So maybe the way you see your career has changed over the winter?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Honestly at the moment it's all eyes on BSB, I'm looking to be BSB champion and that's all we're thinking about.

I mean racing's difficult because you never know where you're going to be from one year to the next so it's best to give you immediate goals your full attention.

But in general I suppose that looking forward World Superbikes is my route, I love watching Chaz Davies and Johnny Rea race and when we see what they're doing it seems like the life I want to lead.
You sound pretty English, are you English or Scottish?

Taylor Mackenzie:
Oh definitely Scottish.

The problem was that I lived in Stirling, Scotland until I was 7 years old and at that stage your accent is still developing and when we moved down to the Midlands after dad finished racing I picked up the Midlands accent quite quickly.

I do love a Scottish accent but at least speaking as I do everyone can understand me and I don't need a translator, but the Saltire would look great behind me on the podium at Knockhill.
Thankyou gu m?r Taylor,Thank you very much, Taylor.

Taylor Mackenzie:
Chan eil trioblaidean, 'd?anamh fiughair ri an seusan!No problem, looking forward to the season!