SMR sign David Johnson for NW200 and TT return

The Gulf Oil BMW David Johnson will ride at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT in 2018.

Shaun Muir Racing will return to the international road races this year with Australian rider David Johnson lining up on BMW machinery.

Gulf Oil International is on board as title sponsors of the team and Johnson will compete in the Superbike and Superstock classes at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.

David Johnson in action at the Isle of Man TT in 2017 on the Fleetwood Grab Services BMW Superstock machine.

The 34-year-old will ride SMR’s former World Superbike S1000RR machinery, previously raced by Josh Brookes and Karel Abraham in 2016.

SMR switched manufacturer to Aprilia last year and signed Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori, who will again ride the RSV4 RF in World Superbikes this season.

Ballymoney’s Michael Dunlop - who joined SMR to race the Milwaukee Yamaha in 2015 before controversially splitting from Muir at the TT - had been linked to the newly-formed BMW team.

Dunlop is currently in Malaysia after being invited to test the factory Suzuki MotoGP bike at Sepang, raising expectations he will remain on the GSX-R1000 this year.

Confirmation that Johnson has signed for SMR after riding for Norton at the TT in 2016 and 2017 will fuel speculation that John McGuinness could join Stuart Garner’s team.

The Morecambe man has already said he is ‘very interested’ in the prospect of riding for Norton this year.

Johnson, meanwhile, believes he can step up a level at the TT in June.

“I’m very excited to be back racing on a BMW with the full technical support of SMR and BMW Motorrad Motosport,” he said.

“The bikes will be as good as they can possibly be, and I am confident this package can push me to the next level at the TT.

“We also have the exciting challenge of the North West 200 before the TT. It will be my first competitive outing on the Gulf BMW so there is a lot of preparation to do, but I can’t wait to see what the team can do.

“We have a full testing program scheduled in early 2018 so we will definitely hit the ground running come first practice at the 2018 TT races.

“I did my fastest lap on a BMW at the TT in 2015 [131.595mph] so this year with factory spec bikes will be a big year for me, and I will make it count.”

The team will be managed by former TT rider Mats Nilsson, who said the partnership with Gulf Oil was reached with a long-term roads campaign in mind.

“Both parties are currently in partnership with SMR’s WorldSBK team and this relationship has been developed with a view to a long-term roads campaign,” he said.

“The team begin testing in Spain on 12th March, which will be a very important period for us.

“We know what the bike is capable of and what Davo can do, so we are looking forward to some track running and to the beginning of the new Gulf BMW road racing campaign.”

More from Sport