Six times international road race winner Lee Johnston is confident of challenging for race wins across all classes, at the upcoming Vauxhall International North West 200.
The coast roads based event, will mark his first roads outing aboard Jackson Racing’s CBR 600RR Honda and the ex Nicky Hayden Ten Kate prepared Honda Fireblade.
Speaking about his expectations this year on the famous Triangle circuit, General Lee said:
“I am really looking forward to the start of practice for the North West now. I love racing at home and because the North West is the first meeting of the year you get to see what everyone else’s form is like too!
I have led most races at the North West at some point and there is no bike that I dislike so I will be trying to win in every race.
A lot of people have been putting in a lot of effort to give me good bikes and I want to do well for them and for myself.”
Photo by Stephen Davison
Adding his thoughts, on piloting one of Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki’s in the Super Twin races, which will carry the colours of Northern Ireland Air Ambulance, he stated:
“It will be really special to ride the little Kawasaki and I would really like to win for Ryan. He is as keen as could be for me even though he isn’t riding the bike himself.”
One big change ahead of the opening international roads meet of 2017, is that Lee will now be piloting in the Superstock races around the Triangle, East Coast Racing’s S1000RR BMW.
Recently he reacquainted himself with the BMW, which has proved a formidable mount with Lee on board, at the Spring Cup National Road Races at Oliver’s Mount, which saw him impress many with his pace on his way to a third place finish in the Bob Smith Spring Cup.
Reflecting on the decision to run BMW machinery in the Superstock class, an extremely honest Lee said:
“I took the old bike out of my boss’s office to race at Oliver’s Mount. I don’t have a contract with Honda and they can’t supply me with a new SP2 Fireblade so I have no option but go this way.”
With the competition at the international road races, been as formidable as it’s ever been, Lee is under no illusions as to the world class field facing him at the North West 200.
Commenting on who he feels, are his biggest challengers for victories, he said:
“Glenn Irwin will be really competitive. He was the last time he rode there in 2015 and there is really only Glenn and Peter Hickman who are capable of running at the front on the roads and in the British Superbike championship.
Ian Hutchinson and Alastair Seeley will be right up there too and neither of them will want to be beaten by their team mate!
There are so many other men who are capable of winning this year; John McGuinness, Dean Harrison, James Hillier, Bruce Anstey, Conor Cummins, Michael and William Dunlop plus riders like Derek Sheils could surprise everyone on the day.
Coming second doesn’t pay the mortgage so everyone will be wanting to win.”
Winning a Superbike race, is firmly at the top of Lee’s agenda. Not to be underestimated at all, the happy go lucky rider, showcases with these quotes here is undoubted determination to prove he is capable of a marque race victory.
“I would really like to win a Superbike race. It is the race that everybody is in and that everybody wants to win.”
Words by Stevie Rial