SMS Academy Athletes get a visit from Superbike legend Niall Mackenzie

The third session of the Scottish Motor Sport Academy took place on 11 April at Knockhill Racing Circuit. The day had a more technical focus over the previous SMS Academy sessions, with workshops focussing on vehicle dynamics and riding and driving techniques.

The SMS Academy athletes also benefitted from the insights and inputs of some special guests at this session.  Three times British Superbike Champion and SMS Academy supporter, Niall Mackenzie, joined the session as well as top Enduro rider and recently qualified Level 2 motorsport coach, Kevin Murray.

The day started with some technical talk on some of the key terms used within motorsport and the importance of having a common language with the team around you. For example, how do you interpret what “balance” means in a car? Or how do you define “pre-load” on a bike? You best make sure your team know how you define it or you could end up in a pickle, as the Academy athletes found out!

Riders and drivers were then split into two groups before lunch; Niall and Kevin lead a special session for the riders, where they discussed motorcycle specific techniques in more detail and where Kevin introduced the riders to some new training techniques to help them build up strength in the right areas to deal with the demands of motorcycle sport. In the next room, SMS Academy coaches – Blair Brown and Malcolm McNab – lead a slightly less active session for the drivers which delved into detail on the friction circle; a model used to explain how a rider or drivers inputs affect the grip of their tyres.

The day was concluded with sessions on how the athletes can maximise their performance in competition, by preparing properly for competition weekends and carrying out effective debriefs. The range of disciplines represented in the room made lead to a broad discussion, which included the value of course recces, pre and post event video analysis, performance logging and much more. 

Commenting after his busy day in session 3, Scottish Superbike championship rider Callum Grigor said:

“It was a very interesting day where I personally learned a lot. We were lucky enough to be joined by Niall Mackenzie who gave us an amazing insight on what it was like to ride at the top level of our sport. I can’t wait for the next session!”

We’d like to say a special thank you to Niall Mackenzie, for making the journey all the way up from the Midlands to spend time with the Academy athletes and share his knowledge and experience with them. Niall, who was part of the initial selection for the SMS Academy programme, wished the SMS Academy athletes well before he left and commented:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my day with some of our bright young Scottish motorsport stars of the future. Congrats to Scottish Motor Sports on making this great initiative possible!”

The fourth and final SMS Academy session will take place on 17 July, when the riders and drivers will go through media training, learn about how to get the most out of social media and how to build their brand.  

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