Despite recording his best ever lap of the Mountain Course, at 130.945mph, it’s fair to say the last two years at the TT have been disappointing for Gary Johnson.
Setting up his own team last year, with the new Suzuki, didn’t pay dividends but a top six finish at the Macau Grand Prix for Lee Hardy Racing was a good reminder to everyone that he still has what it takes. And signing to Hardy’s RAF Regular and Reserve Kawasaki for TT2018 has given him a new lease of life.
“I’ve joined a team with a lot of passion for the job they do and they’re as focused on doing a good job with me at the TT as they are with Jake Dixon in BSB. Their track record speaks for itself and it’s the opportunity I needed.”
“There were other options on the table but a key for me was staying with a quality team with staff of equal quality. All of the manufacturers have great bikes but how it’s managed is vital. I think I proved my worth to the team at Macau and they certainly proved to me what they could offer as a team. We worked really well together and constantly moved forward and made progress so I’m confident it will be the same at the TT.”
“This time last year I had no bikes and it was bloody hard work to make it on to the grid at the TT. I was having to do everything myself and my riding suffered whereby I got left behind a bit by the other riders. But I believe I have the right package now to get myself back to the right level.”
“I’ve had a few niggling injuries in the past that have taken longer than expected to heal and held me back a bit but this deal means I can concentrate on my fitness and riding and not worry about everything else. The pressure’s off in that sense so I’m in a good frame of mind and in a good place.”
On his day, Johnson has achieved some fine performances and his two TT wins came when he beat the best riders on the grid – he earned them for sure – so his abilities are already proven. He’s also tasted success before on Kawasaki machinery, none more so than in the Superstock race of 2013 where he battled with Michael Dunlop for much of the race distance before having to settle for second when an oil leak made him slacken his pace.
“I know what I’m capable of, I know what the bike is capable of and I know what the team is capable of. In Jake, they’ve got a potential BSB Champion and I’d like to think I’ll be able to give them some joy on the roads too. We’ve got some testing planned to keep my hand in and will be doing the North West 200 as well so I’m in a vastly superior position to twelve months ago. I’ll certainly be giving it my best shot.”