Double Isle of Man TT winner Gary Johnson has signed a deal with Northern Ireland’s Mar-Train Yamaha team to contest the Supersport class at the North West 200 and TT this year.
The popular Lincolnshire rider was left without a ride in the middleweight category after failing to agree terms with Gloucester outfit Smiths Racing to ride a Triumph Daytona 675, with Guy Martin brought into the team instead alongside Aussie David Johnson.
The news came as a shock after Johnson delivered a dream victory for Smiths Racing - his second in the Supersport class at the TT - on the Mountain Course last year but the Broughton man has now secured top class machinery after linking up with Tim Martin’s highly-regarded Mar-Train squad to ride a Yamaha YZF-R6, forming a formidable partnership with Bradford’s Dean Harrison.
And the 34-year-old, who also secured a rostrum finish in the Supersport class at the North West 200 in 2014, is relishing the chance of challenging for more big international victories as part of Yamaha UK’s official roads team this year.
“I’m really looking forward to getting on the Yamaha, it’s one of the fastest bikes out there and it would be fantastic to win three TTs for three different manufacturers,” said Johnson, who won his first Supersport TT on a Honda in 2011.
“The Mar-Train boys do a proper job, they’ve won North West 200’s and came close to winning three British Championships from three attempts, so you cannot argue with their credentials.
“Contacting Tim about a Supersport ride was an easy decision; the standard of his bikes and team are unquestionable. I’m also looking forward to teaming up with Dean, he’s one of my good friends in the paddock and his speed speaks for itself so he will be one of my biggest rivals come race day.”
Mar-Train team own Tim Martin admitted he hadn’t panned on adding a second rider to the line-up this season, but when the opportunity arose to work with Johnson, it was one he couldn’t turn down.
“Adding a second rider really wasn’t in my plans for this year but when the opportunity arose to do something with Gary I couldn’t turn it down,” he said.
“He’s a double TT winner and perfectly capable of winning for us at the North West as well; he’s a nice lad and gets on with Dean too so he fits in very well.
“Dean is still our focus for the year as a whole but having Gary on board as well makes for a very exciting May and June for Mar-Train racing.”
Johnson has just completed testing in Spain with his GBmoto Kawasaki team while Harrison and Mar-Train have also been availing of the milder climate after participating in the official Yamaha test at Alcarras.