Lee Johnston turns focus to Isle of Man TT after North West 200 boost

Lee Johnston on the East Coast/Burdens BMW
Lee Johnston on the East Coast/Burdens BMW

Lee Johnston says his performances at the Vauxhall International North West 200 have given him a confidence boost ahead of the Isle of Man TT.

The Fermanagh rider wasn’t at full fitness for the first big international meeting of the season after sustaining a leg injury in a crash at the Scarborough Spring Cup last month.

Johnston aggravated the injury further during practice, but despite feeling a slightly second-hand, the ‘General’ managed four top-six finishes at the North West.

His best result was fifth in the sole Superbike race on the East Coast/Burdens BMW, although Johnston felt hard done by after crossing the line in third in Saturday’s Supersport race on his Triumph 675, only to find himself falling to sixth in the official standings after incurring a ten-second penalty.

He ran on at Juniper chicane after Ian Hutchinson dived up his inside, leaving the Ulster rider with no option other than to pick his machine up.

Johnston lost time on the leading group and argues that he followed the rules by putting his foot down before proceeding, yet he was penalised nonetheless for the infringement.

The legendary TT meeting now takes centre stage and Johnston is looking ahead to the event, where practice gets under way on the Mountain Course next Saturday.

“It gives me a bit more confidence with the TT just around the corner, but I have to give the team all the credit they deserve for another big effort,” he said.

“Not to make any excuses, but I’m still recovering from the injury after Scarborough, so I think I maybe just lacked that final couple of per-cent and in turn that maybe made me a little too polite in terms of winning races.”

Reflecting on the controversial penalty, Johnston said: “I’m more disappointed for the lads in the team than anything else, but we were not a million miles away.

“Losing out on the podium was disappointing as there’s no stop-box if you overshoot the chicane at Juniper and I did dab a foot, lost three or four seconds and a couple of places, which I thought was a big enough penalty,” he said.

“Hutchy made a racing move and I’ve no problem with that, but in my opinion the penalty didn’t fit the crime and it cost me a podium.”

Johnston clinched his best result at the TT last year with a brilliant podium finish in the Superstock race, finishing behind Mountain Course big-hitters Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop.

Meanwhile, William Dunlop will again contest the TT Zero In June, teaming up once more with Victory Motorcycles.