John McGuinness signs with Honda Racing for 2022 Isle of Man TT as Glenn Irwin set for debut

John McGuinness will make a shock return to the Honda Racing team for the 2022 Isle of Man TT, joining Ulsterman Glenn Irwin.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 12:18 pm

As revealed in the News Letter two weeks ago, the Morecambe man will make a milestone 100th start next year on the Fireblade CBR1000RR-R as the TT gears up for a return for the first time since 2019 following back-to-back cancellations in 2020 and again this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

McGuinness is also set to compete at the North West 200 in May, where he will ride the latest Fireblade on the roads for the first time in Northern Ireland.

“What can I say really, it’s like coming back home to the family,” said McGuinness, who will ride the latest Fireblade in the Superbike and Superstock classes.

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John McGuinness has signed with Honda Racing for the 2022 North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.

“I’ve been in talks for a while with Neil [Fletcher - Head of Motorcycles, Honda UK] and Harv [Havier Beltran, Honda Racing UK team manager] and it’s just something that feels right; it’s the 30th anniversary of the Fireblade, I’ll be 50 years-old and also celebrating my 100th TT start, so it feels like it’s meant to be.

“I’ve enjoyed a lot of success on the roads with the Honda and worked with Harv back in the day with HM Plant Honda, so I’m looking forward to getting back into the set-up and getting going. I had a little go on the Fireblade earlier this year and was impressed with it on-track, so looking forward to getting on the roads and seeing how it goes.

“It’s going to be a special year with everything going on and also just getting back to the North West 200 and the TT and everyone racing there again - I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of Honda’s iconic Fireblade and it will be a fitting reunion as the popular English rider renews his ties with Honda for the landmark moment in his illustrious career next June.

John McGuinness at Union Mills on his way to his 23rd and most recent Isle of Man TT victory on the Honda Racing Fireblade in the 2015 Senior. Picture: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.

McGuinness, who achieved his 23rd and most recent TT victory in the 2015 Senior, is the second most successful rider in the history of the world’s most famous road race behind Ulster’s Joey Dunlop (26 wins).

He will be 50 by the time he sets off down Bray Hill once more in 2022, but McGuinness will be hoping a return to the team where he enjoyed so much success over the years will enable him to rekindle former glories.

It was an association many felt was over for good after Honda star McGuinness was ruled out of the 2017 season following a crash in Superbike qualifying at the North West 200, which was caused by a throttle blip issue.

His injuries included a broken right leg, which he fractured again the following year, causing McGuinness to miss the TT once again. He parted company from Honda in early 2018 and signed for Stuart Garner’s Norton team – a venture that ended in bitter disappointment after McGuinness retired from the Superbike race in 2019 and was forced out on the opening lap of the Senior TT as a result of a broken engine bolt.

John McGuinness's long career with Honda ended following a crash in Superbike qualifying at the North West 200 in 2017. Picture: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press.

The 49-year-old then signed a deal with Pete Extance’s Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team for 2020 but the worldwide coronavirus crisis effectively wiped out the road racing calendar for the ensuing two seasons.

Speaking recently to Manx Radio about his new deal, McGuinness said: “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.

“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.”

Carrick's Irwin, who has signed with Honda Racing UK for a third season in the British Superbike Championship, will finally realise his dream after his much anticipated TT debut was put on hold for the past two years due to the Covid pandemic.

The 2022 Isle of Man TT is set to take place from May 29 to June 11.

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