ULSTER GP: Lee Johnston confirms return from injury at Dundrod

Lee Johnston will make his comeback from injury at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix.
Lee Johnston will make his comeback from injury at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix.
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Lee Johnston has confirmed he will be on the grid at next month’s MCE Ulster Grand Prix after recovering from his crash in practice at the Isle of Man TT.

The Fermanagh rider, who was the 2015 man of the meeting at the world’s fastest road race after a sizzling treble, will ride his East Coast BMW machines in the Superbike and Superstock classes and joins Bruce Anstey and Conor Cummins in the Padgett’s Honda livery for the Supersport races.

Johnston missed the meeting last year after crashing in practice at Dundrod, sustaining a broken collarbone.

However, the 28-year-old is eager to make amends and is targeting the top step as he aims to round off the major international road racing season on a high.

Johnston said: “I always go racing to win and if I’m feeling good and well as hopefully I am then I plan on trying to win a few races at the Ulster.

“You’re wasting petrol and fuel and tyres and everything if you’re not going with winning in mind. It might not happen but you have to at least set that goal, if you turn up thinking you’re only going to get top five then you’re definitely not going to win.

“It’s a big relief to be feeling race-ready for Dundrod. Only the people closest to me know that when I was still in the hospital I made a plan in my head that this was what I wanted to do and having that goal helped me in recovery, you need to be aiming for something.”

Johnston came off the Padgett’s Honda Supersport machine at Greeba Castle at the TT last month, injuring his back and tailbone and sustaining fractures to his fingers.

He is still feeling some discomfort, but he remains upbeat as he looks forward to Dundrod (August 9-12).

“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point, I’ve been at everything from oxygen chambers to a guy coming to the house with a magnetic bed and all sorts,” he said.

“I feel loads better than I did a month ago. I’m still a little bit sore, but my back has healed up well and the break has healed.

“It’s just the nerve damage to deal with and that’s going to be sore for months and months. I’ll get a painkiller injection before the Ulster to calm it down a bit.

“Apart from that I feel good, I’m back doing some light training. I haven’t ridden a bike yet but we’re planning to do a test next Thursday.

“I might be a little bit rusty for the first couple of races until we get going again but the good thing about that is we have the Thursday racing to get back in the swing of it and then I’ll be hopefully be ready for the Saturday.”

Clerk of the Course at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix, Noel Johnston, is delighted that the ‘General’ will be on the grid at Dundrod.

“The news that Lee has recovered well enough to compete is very welcome, and adds to overall the strength of the entry list.

“After a disappointing season in 2016 which culminated in him breaking his collarbone after a crash during practice last August at Dundrod, Lee seemed to be back to his best at the beginning of this year,” he said.

“It was a shame he crashed out of the TT when he was going so well up to that point, but the good news for him is that it’s all to play for at the Ulster.

“He was our 2015 Man of the Meeting and I know that a lot of people will be glad to see him back, and hopefully on winning form once again.”

The MCE Ulster Grand Prix takes place from August 9-12, incorporating the Dundrod 150.