Lee Johnston gearing up for full international assault

Lee Johnston
Lee Johnston

Fast-rising roads sensation Lee Johnston is gearing up for a return to the three main international meetings in 2014 with East Coast Racing.

The Fermanagh man, now based in Hull, will complete a full season in the National Superstock 1000 Championship this year in addition to the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.

Johnston has been a revelation since the former British Superstock 600 champion switched his focus to the major road races over the past few years.

He has become a familiar sight on the rostrum at the North West and Ulster Grand Prix and last year underscored his stunning transition to the roads by emerging as the Privateer Champion at the TT on only his second visit to the iconic Mountain Course.

Johnston claimed his best finish of ninth place in the Lightweight race and went on to lap at 126mph on his way to 11th position in the Senior TT.

He took third place in the second Supersport race at the North West 200 before the event was called off due to bad weather and returned to the podium at the Ulster Grand Prix with another third place in the first Supersport race.

Johnston - who began last season with the Millsport Ducati team before riding Honda machinery for long-term sponsor East Coast Racing at the TT - will compete in the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock races this year on Honda CBRs and will also ride a Kawasaki ER6 in the Supertwin category.

Looking ahead to the TT in June, Johnston said: “I still feel like a rookie around the Mountain Circuit. I got so few laps done in 2012 that 2013 really felt like I was still a newcomer. I was carrying a leg injury into the event also and it was touch and go as to whether or not I’d be able to ride at all.

“As it turned out I don’t think it could have gone any better and I feel confident in my own ability now going back for my third year on the Island,” he added.

“Phil Reed at East Coast Construction has been brilliant to me with the support he is giving me and together I think we can look forward to a successful season.

“I’m still learning my way around the Mountain Circuit and there is no pressure on me to get results, but I am quietly confident that we can make further progress up the leader board in 2014.”

Meanwhile, an additional morning qualifying session for the 2014 Isle of Man TT races has been added to the practice schedule in May, subject to public consultation.

A time slot of 10.15am to 12.40pm for all classes is being sought to ensure extra track time for competitors should practice week be restricted due to poor weather for example.

TT Clerk of the Course, Gary Thompson, said: “We have proposed an additional qualifying session this year to mitigate against restricted practice time to ensure that machines and riders are given every opportunity to practice ahead of races. Last year we had to postpone the Superbike race to allow riders to get additional practice time.

“We will be consulting with all relevant parties to ensure that the additional session may be possible in order to minimise any perceived disruption to the public. I would like to thank both the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Infrastructure and the Isle of Man TT Marshals Association for their support.”