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SMS Academy 2018/19 squad assembles

The successful applicants to the 2018/19 SMS Academy have been announced and have already attended Knockhill Racing Circuit today, for the first session of the Academy programme.

The SMS Academy was set up in 2017 to support young riders and drivers (aged 14-20) who are showing potential to excel in the sport. Having successfully supported 23 young drivers and riders in the 2017/18 programme, applications launched in August for a new fresh squad to come in and benefit from the Academy’s support. Since launching the application, we have received a huge amount of interest in the programme. This has made the job of the selection panel – which included representatives from Scottish Motor Sports, the Scottish Auto Cycle Union (SACU) and the Motor Sports Association (MSA) – extremely difficult but after some deliberation, the following competitors have been selected:

The SMS Academy members will each be allocated a coach to offer remote support and advice when needed across the year. Between now and August 2019, the members will take part in four development workshops, which will support them in all aspects of their development, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to maximise their performance.

The first SMS Academy workshop took place today – Wednesday 17th October – at Knockhill, where the Academy members are getting an introduction to the programme, creating their own development plan for the upcoming year and learning about sponsorship, amongst other subjects.  The programme will again be delivered by fully qualified MSA Level 2 coaches; Blair Brown and Malcolm McNab will be continuing as Academy coaches but they will also be joined by SACU Enduro competitor, Kevin Murray, who – having went through his level 2 coaching qualification last year, will be tasked with leading some of the more technical discussions with the riders on the programme.

New for the 2018/19 programme will be a specific session for the parents in January; parents of the Academy athletes will be invited to attend a special Introduction to Coaching session that will be aimed at developing their own understanding of talent development and coaching to help them best support their son/daughters development. This is being introduced following feedback from last year’s programme, where parents expressed that they would like to have more involvement in their son/daughters development on the SMS Academy. 

There will also be additional support for the SACU riders on the programme this year with sponsorship from Ride Scotland. This new sponsorship will support the riders through additional coaching at events / training days, to help facilitate the riders to put what they have learned in the SMS Academy sessions, into practice.

Amongst the bike racers selected for the Academy this year are Adon Davie (Prestonpans, SACU, Road Race), Angus Bruce (Kelso, SACU, Enduros), Calum Pert (Edzell, SACU, Road Race), Declan Connell (Dunfermline, SACU, Road Race), Jack Hart (Renfrew, SACU, Road Race), Lewis Nicol (Cupar, SACU, Road Race), Robbie Wood (Melrose, SACU, Quad), Ross Maguire (Wishaw, SACU, Road Race), and Sophie Simpson (Stewarton, SACU, Trials).

Follow the SMS Social media channels to hear about the upcoming SMS Academy sessions and to keep up to date with the new squad’s progress. 


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Mixed fortunes for the Mackenzies at Knockhill

We made our annual trip north of the border at the weekend to the Knockhill circuit where as with all of the UK the weather was glorious over the three days.

Being one of the few riders that didn’t test there Tarran found himself on the back foot from the first practice, however, the MCAMS Yamaha team made continual progress over the weekend.  His early practice pace meant he had his worst grid position of the season (19th) making it difficult to come make his way up the order on the tight twisty track. A hard fought 14th position in race one was good but a much stronger ride to 11th in race two gave a very satisfying end to the weekend.

Taylor’s Knockhill wasn’t so positive as he decided to part from his Moto Rapido Ducati Team. He felt both himself and the team should be achieving much stronger results so it was better to have an amicable split than for both parties to continue to under perform.  Team boss Steve Moore was saddened by his decision but also understood his reasons for leaving.


I love Knockhill but our lack of testing meant my bike was hard to ride at this very physical circuit. Being the smallest lightest rider on the grid also didn’t help, however, working hard with the team meant we turned things around by the end of the weekend. 14th and 11th doesn’t sound like great results but I left happy knowing we had transformed the bike making me competitive for race two.  I was hampered by a poor grid position but enjoyed my race dicing with Peter Hickman all the way to the flag. Every circuit is new for me on the Superbike but along with my fantastic MCAMS team I’m loving the experience. PS Hope you like my tartan fairing! 


The last thing I want to do in life is quit any project but after giving my all until Knockhill I felt things were never going to gel with myself and the Moto Rapido Ducati, so it was best for everyone if we went our separate ways.  The team were incredibly understanding even saying farewell over a few beers on Saturday evening. My life is racing so my plan now is to find the right team and bike to get me back to being properly competitive and enjoying the sport I love. I have no immediate plans but hopefully we can find a good solution very soon.