Gary Johnson endured a luckless international bow with roads newcomers GBmoto Kawasaki at the North West 200, but the Lincolnshire man expects to be right at the forefront at the Isle of Man TT next week.
Johnson qualified in second place on his factory-supported ZX-10R Superbike at the North West but was ruled out of the sole race for the class after a tilt switch fault caused the machine to cut out.
A clutch issue forced him out of the Superstock race after he had hauled himself up to eighth place after starting from 13th on the grid, but despite the brace of non-finishes, the Broughton rider was pleased with the progress his team made with both machines ahead of the TT, which officially gets under way with opening practice for solo and sidecar newcomers and Lightweight competitors on Saturday evening (6.20pm).
Johnson clinched his second TT triumph last year in the opening Supersport race – his second win in the class – before a serious crash on the opening lap of the Superstock event brought his 2014 challenge to a premature conclusion.
However, the 34-year-old has now fully recovered from his injuries and heads into this year’s festival as one of the major contenders.
“This is it, the big one!” said Johnson. “The Isle of Man TT is the event that everything else is built around and these two weeks are really the main focus for the year.
“Heading over this year with a factory team like GBmoto means I’m in a really good shape and can focus on riding, rather than preparing the machines myself.
“If we just look at the results, then the North West 200 doesn’t look very successful, but the truth is we were able to really improve both the Superbike and Superstock machine.
“We head to the Isle of Man with two motorcycles that handle incredibly, are very stable and have more than enough power so I’m confident that we’ll be able to be challenging for some good results.
“Obviously the TT is a different course to anything else in the world, so we’ll still have a fair bit of work to do during practice to get the bikes up to speed – but that’s the same for all of the guys who are heading over this year on new machines,” he added.
“We’re in a very strong place and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve over the next fortnight.”
Johnson will also contest the Supersport class for Northern Ireland’s Mar-Train Racing team on one of Tim Martin’s trick Yamaha R6 machines alongside Dean Harrison and is also entered in the Lightweight class, when he will ride for WK Bikes on a CF Moto 650i, with full works backing from the factory in Japan.