Seven years after making his debut at the Isle of Man TT Races, Lee Johnston took his first victory when he took the chequered flag in Monday evening’s shortened Supersport race.
Having set up his own team for 2019, Ashcourt Racing, the 30-year old had made the class at this year’s TT one of his main aims and having already won at the North West 200, he saw off the considerable challenge of James Hillier to get the verdict by 3.6s.
“I’m feeling so emotional right now and it means so much to me to win a TT race,” Johnston said afterwards.
This place can be as equally as frustrating as it can be rewarding and I don’t really think I’ve done much different but I’ve got some really good people around me this year. We believe in each other and trust each other and when you go racing like we’ve done this year, it makes it all the more rewarding”
Hillier grabbed the lead initially but Johnston edged ahead for the first time at the Bungalow and an opening lap of 126.031mph gave him a two second advantage, which he doubled by the time he reached Glen Helen second time around.
However, rain had begun to fall on the west part of the circuit and Hillier brought the gap down to just 0.6s but Johnston was in determined mood and with a good run over the Mountain, his advantage was more than three seconds by the end of the second lap.
Instead of pitting for fuel though, Johnston saw the chequered flag being unfurled as race organisers made the decision to end the race early and he crossed the line instead with his second lap of 126.871mph, the fastest of the race, seeing him clinch his first TT win by 3.6s.
His previous best results were third in the 2015 Superstock and TT Zero Races with the same result coming in the latter twelve months ago.
“I knew if I could keep Peter (Hickman) in my sights, I’d be somewhere close to the front but James was riding really well and it was difficult to know how hard to push when the rain came.
When you’re in with a chance of the win though, all thoughts of backing off go out the window and you just go for it. I wasn’t actually sure if it was rain at first and wondered if it was water from the overflow bottle but when I lifted my head above the screen, the rain hit my visor.
I maybe pushed on a bit hard in the conditions but I wasn’t going to lose a TT race win because of a few spits of rain! It was a strange race to be fair and even at the end when I saw the chequered flag I wasn’t sure whether to cross the line or come into the pits.”
“The Superbike earlier in the day was a bit disappointing but after the lack of track time during practice week, I struggled with the set up of the bike whilst the wind was causing me a few issues too.
“I had a couple of moments as well so it wasn’t worth pushing any harder and 15th was the end result with the Supersport race later in the day more of a priority. I really can’t thank the team enough for everything they’ve given me. We wanted to make our mark on the Supersport class at this year’s TT and we’ve done just that.”