NW200: David Johnson eyes maiden podium on North Coast

David Johnson on the Gulf BMW at Donington Park.
David Johnson on the Gulf BMW at Donington Park.

Australian contender David Johnson is quietly confident of challenging for the podium at next month’s Vauxhall International North West 200.

Johnson has joined the Gulf BMW team and will compete in the iconic blue and orange livery for the first time on the North Coast, where practice gets underway on Tuesday, May 15.

Australian rider David Johnson missed the North West 200 last year but reutrns on the Gulf BMW in May.

Australian rider David Johnson missed the North West 200 last year but reutrns on the Gulf BMW in May.

His S1000RR Superbike and Superstock machines are being prepared by the Shaun Muir Racing team, which also runs the Milwaukee Aprilia squad of Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori in the World Superbike Championship.

Johnson, who rode for Norton at the Isle of Man TT in 2016 and 2017, missed the North West last year.

The Adelaide rider previously raced on the Triangle course in 2015 and 2016, clinching a best result of ninth in the Superbike class three years ago.

“I’m ready to get the ball rolling again at the North West,” said Johnson, who will benefit from having rode BMW machinery at the event in the past for Paul Shoesmith, who was tragically killed in a crash at the TT in 2016.

“I rode a BMW for Paul Shoesmith on those visits and I think the S1000RR Superbike will be good around there.

“I’m aiming for the podium at the North West but I definitely want it to stay dry - there are too many Irish guys who are too fast in the rain!”

Johnson has achieved some eye-catching results over the past few years, including becoming the fastest ever Australian at the TT when he lapped at 131.595mph in 2015, riding a BMW for Smiths Racing.

His best result was an excellent ride to fourth in the Superstock TT in 2014 on a Kawasaki, but the 35-year-old feels most at home on the BMW.

“I’ve rode a lot of bikes on the roads but I know the BMW provides a winning combination,” Johnson said.

“We have factory support and are running Dunlop tyres and Ohlins suspension, which is as good as it gets.”

Johnson began his preparations by competing in the opening round of the Bennett’s British Superbike Championship last weekend at Donington Park.

He was lucky to escape uninjured after a massive crash at Cramer Curves, when he was caught out by the cold and wet conditions in practice.

Johnson said: “Unfortunately FP3 was a really slippery session and I was caught out at Craner Curves, I don't even know what happened but the bike was damaged and I injured my left rotator cuff.

“That knocked the wind out of our sails a bit, and from then I had to settle for just completing laps because I wasn't able to push hard in the races.

“That said, there's a lot of positives for us to take away and we have some good data going forward. It's been great for the team to bond this weekend and we've worked really well together,” he added.

“Now I can't wait to get back on the bike in a few weeks at Oulton Park where I'll be on the Superstock for the official test.”