Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson has announced his 2019 plans as he prepares for his return to the fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils.
Johnson is the latest top name to sign up for the first of the ‘big three’ major road races, which takes place on the North Coast from May 14-18.
The 38-year-old is a long-standing competitor at the North West, where he made his debut around the 8.9-mile ‘Triangle’ course back in 2007.
Johnson will again ride Kawasaki ZX-10RR machinery this year in the Superbike and Superstock races in the colours of the Lee Hardy RAF Regular and Reserves Racing team.
He will also compete in the Supersport class on a 675cc Triumph as he targets a maiden win at the famous Ulster road race, which is celebrating its milestone 90th anniversary this year.
Johnson – a multiple rostrum finisher at the North West – has planned in a number of short circuit meetings at the start of the season in preparation for the new road racing campaign.
“While my race bikes are being built I’ve bought my own practice bike, an MSS Performance/Reactive Parts prepared ZX10-RR, so that I can go testing and take in some early endurance races plus the first Thundersport and British championship Superstock rounds,” he said.
“I have to try and fast-track and make up ground with my preparations because the boys who race BSB have been riding all year since last year’s North West.
“We have some good settings from last year when I had a good run in the Superstock race at the North West,” added Johnson, who feels the continuity of remaining on Kawasaki machinery will stand him in good stead this year.
“We all race for the big prizes and everyone is coming to the North West 200 to win,” he said.
“We will have some continuity with the Kawasakis and I need my bikes to be strong so that I can run in the front group.
“I was in the mix in the Superstock and Supersport races last year and I want to be in there again battling to be on the podium come May.”
A double Isle of Man TT winner in the Supersport class, Johnson finished on the rostrum at the North West in the Superstock category in 2013.
The following year, he bagged another trio of podium results in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races.
Johnson is the latest big name confirmed for the North West and joins a stellar cast for the event, which currently includes Glenn Irwin and Alastair Seeley, Michael Dunlop, Lee Johnston, Peter Hickman, Ian Hutchinson, Dean Harrison, David Johnson, James Hillier, Derek Sheils, Jeremy McWilliams, Derek McGee and Adam McLean.