John McGuinness poised for sensational Honda return at 2022 Isle of Man TT
John McGuinness could be poised for a sensational return to Honda machinery for the 2022 Isle of Man TT, the News Letter understands.
The Morecambe man is set to make a milestone 100th start next year as the TT gears up for a return following back-to-back cancellations in 2020 and again this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
With 23 victories, McGuinness is the second most successful rider in the history of the world’s most famous road race behind Northern Ireland’s Joey Dunlop, who claimed his 26th and final win around the Mountain Course in 2000.
Following a long and successful association with the official Honda Racing team, McGuinness and the Louth-based outfit parted company in early 2018, some eight months after a crash in qualifying at the 2017 North West 200 – caused by a throttle blip issue – left him with injuries including a broken right leg, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
McGuinness joined Norton for 2018 but missed the TT for the second successive year after re-breaking his right leg. He returned on the British machine in 2019 but retired from the Superbike race and was forced out on the opening lap of the Senior TT due to a broken engine bolt.
The 49-year-old then penned a deal with the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team for 2020, but the worldwide coronavirus crisis effectively wiped out the road racing calendar for the ensuing two seasons.
However, a mooted return to Honda next year would see McGuinness ride the latest CBR1000RR-R Fireblade on the Manx roads for the first time.
Ulsterman Glenn Irwin, who has signed with Honda Racing UK for a third season in the British Superbike Championhip, is also eager to race at the TT in 2022 after being forced to put his much anticipated debut on hold for the past two years, but it is understood Honda's final line-up for the TT has yet to decided.
McGuinness, who would be 50 by the time of next year’s TT, flew to the Isle of Man this week for talks with the event organisers around plans for the festival’s return.
Speaking to Manx Radio, he confirmed he had a new deal in place for 2022.
“It’s a great package and I feel like I’m maybe going to be going back home, maybe slipping into the old slippers that I know,” McGuinness said.
“But I can’t say too much about it, but the main thing with the TT is that you’ve got to be happy, you’ve got to be confident in your team and all on the same page, and where we’re going next year, we’re all really excited about it.”
After two years without the TT, McGuinness says he is already beginning to feel nervous about the prospect of starting his 100th race next June.
“It’s been weird – I’m a little bit nervous about it, coming up to my 100th start, so I’m feeling a little bit of pressure, but I shouldn’t really feel any pressure because it’s just going to be another race,” he said.
“I’ve nothing left to prove anymore and I just still love coming across, I still love riding the place and I still enjoy everything about it.
“I miss the people, I miss the bikes, the atmosphere – there’s only one place like it and the Isle of Man is so unique, and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
The 2022 Isle of Man TT is set to take place from May 29 to June 11.
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