Irishman Lee Johnston will line up at this year’s Isle of Man TT Races for Jackson Racing with the diminutive roads specialist riding Nicky Hayden’s 2016 World Superbike-spec Honda Fireblade.
The 27-year-old will ride the Ten Kate-prepared bike that carried the 2006 MotoGP world champion to a WorldSBK race win last season at Sepang in the RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior races. In addition, he’ll also campaign Hondas in the RL360º Superstock and Monster Energy Supersport races.
“I want to be back at the front again, winning races and I think this is the bike that can help me to do that. I had plenty of offers for this year and in the end it was all of the little things coming together that sealed the deal. We are getting help from Honda but with Alan and his team I can run my own choice of kit, bring some of my own people to work on the bikes and keep my own sponsors,” said Johnston.
“I was over in Holland last week at the Ten Kate workshop and they are super keen to be going back to the TT. Honda doesn’t bring out bad bikes and if the stocker is on the pace then we will have a go on it but realistically I should be winning a Supersport TT before I’m winning a superbike race. I hold the lap record on a 600 at the North West and the Ulster and I’ve won lots of races on that bike but I haven’t turned it into anything at the TT yet. I’m hungrier than ever and I just want to win more races than I did in 2016!”
Johnston made his TT debut in 2012 and just a year later he won the coveted TT Privateer’s Trophy riding Honda machinery. He was again Honda-mounted in 2014 when he took a best finish of fifth in the RL360º Superstock race and a switch to BMW power in 2015 gave him his first TT podium with third in the RL360º Superstock race. He recorded his best lap to date of 130.851mph in the race and backed it up by the same result in the SES TT Zero race.
Winner of the 2014 350cc Classic TT, last season was ruined by leg injuries suffered in a crash at the Scarborough Spring Cup in April but he still had some fine rides on the Mountain Course with a brace of sixths taken in the two Monster Energy Supersport races, eighth in the PokerStars Senior and tenth in the RST Superbike race.
However, when his East Coast Racing team quit the sport at the end of the year the Fermanagh man was without a ride for 2017. The new deal though means the Fermanagh man will also have the new 2017 SP2 spec Fireblade available in stock trim but by opting to ride the 2016 spec ex-Hayden Honda he hopes to avoid any problems in finding a good set up with a brand new bike.
Jackson Racing have a wealth of experience at the TT with the Preston-based squad having previously run, amongst others, John McGuinness, Steve Mercer, Ian Lougher, Conor Cummins and Mark Miller. Former Manx Grand Prix outright lap record holder Alan Jackson jnr will again head up the team, with Johnston also contesting the North West 200, Ulster Grand Prix and Macau road races.