Niall Mackenzie may not have finished either of the two races at Donington Park on Sunday, but the popular Scotsman ended the day with a broad smile on his face, cheered on by his thousands of fans trackside.

The Former champ was taking the place of injured race regular Yukio Kagayama and qualified an impressive eighth for Sunday's double header. However, race day didn't go quite to plan as his first outing ended shortly after a trip into the gravel trap, while race two also finished early with a mechanical failure.

But the results in no way reflected Niall's enjoyment:

"I can't stop smiling, I've had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed myself," he said soon afterwards. "I might not have finished either race but I gave it a real good go and want to thank my fans for all their support.

"In race one I made a basic error and ran off at Coppice," he admitted. "For the second race we made all the right decisions and I was enjoying fighting for seventh place when I decided to pull over rather than risk an accident.

"It was brilliant fun and despite 20-years of race experience, I learnt a lot about racing and bike set-up," added the Eurosport commentator, before declaring he won't be begging anyone to give him a full time ride: "It's reminded me of what a hard job it is to race a motorcycle competitively and while I enjoyed it, I won't want to repeat it, it's much easier commentating on telly than riding!"

Rizla Suzuki team manager Paul Denning, who'd convinced Mackenzie to take his one-off offer, praised Mackenzie's contribution and stated that he;d continue his test role next season.

"Niall might be an elder statesman, but he was a breath of fresh air this weekend and we all enjoyed working with him," said Denning. "He didn't finish a race but he had fun and I've no doubt he'll be back as our test and development rider for 2004."

Denning also revealed that the team are close to re-signing Kagayama for next year.
"We have missed Yuki these last three rounds, but the hospital has reported good progress and he is talking about next season and putting together a Championship challenge," he revealed. "We want to finish 1-2 in the series next year and over the next few weeks we'll be finalising our 2004 contracts, so watch this space."



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