John McGuinness has already got his 22nd year of racing underway with a new challenge in store for the Morecambe legend as he'll be contesting the World Endurance Championship for the very first time. The Championship will be held over 6 rounds in France, Spain, Japan, Great Britain and Qatar comprising 6, 8 and 24 Hour races with the opening round, the Bol d'Or 24 Hours, already done and dusted.
For the sixth successive year, John will be an official Honda rider and this year forms part of the Honda TT Legends team that also includes Steve Plater and Keith Amor.
In what promises to be an extremely busy year, John will also contest the Isle of Man TT (where he'll ride with the number 1 plate) and Ulster Grand Prix Superbike and Superstock races in the livery of the TT Legends squad also competing in the Supersport events for Padgetts Honda, for whom he'll ride in selected rounds of the National 1000cc Superstock Championship.
An intensive pre-season testing schedule has seen John clock up the miles on the CBR1000RR Honda Fireblade at Albacete, Spain and Magny Cours, France whilst the team also recently completed a 6 hour shakedown at Darley Moor in the UK in preparation for the Bol d'Or. Whilst Plater is a veteran of World Endurance racing, John's only prior experience was at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2003 but his vast racing experience on both the short circuits and roads should stand him good stead and it's a challenge he's very much looking forward to.
Speaking prior to leaving for France, the 15-times TT winner said: "I’ve raced in a lot of classes over the years, and will continue to do so again this season, but to be in a team capable of winning a world championship can’t be bad at this stage of my career! I was a little surprised when we first started talking about the World Endurance Championship towards the end of last year but when Honda explained the thinking behind it, it made a lot of sense and I'm really looking forward to a full season of World Championship competition."
"It's a brand new team so we've had a lot of work to do in pre-season but it's gone really well and we've enjoyed some good testing in both the wet and the dry. The Endurance bike is different to what I'd normally ride - it's heavier than a short circuit bike and we're running 16" and 16.5" front and rear wheels, for example - but we've got through a lot of stuff and although we're totally different in stature and how we ride, Steve, Keith and myself have all been working towards the same thing and we're all really happy with the set up of the bike as we head to Magny Cours. We just want to go racing now and get our Championship challenge up and running."
"With regards to the roads, I still get the buzz of anticipation and nerves jangling just as I did when I first started all those years ago and I certainly want to win more TTs before I finish racing. Last year didn't quite go to plan on the Island so I'm firmly aiming at rectifying that this time around whilst I'm really looking forward to going back to the Ulster GP again. If everything goes to plan, we'll be there or thereabouts in all of our races and there's no reason why we can't do the business again!"