In the opening Superbike race of the day Johnston narrowly missed out on the podium after crossing the line in fourth place. In a thrilling race at the 8.9-mile circuit in Northern Ireland, ‘The General’ started from tenth on the grid and soon started to gain places aboard the Fireblade.
Making his way into second place in the closing stages of the race, the 29-year old outbroke himself heading into Juniper Hill and crossed the line fourth having set the second fastest lap time of the race 4:24.173 (122.238mph).
The final feature Superbike race of the day saw Johnston quickly making up places and into the front pack. With blistering pace aboard the CBR he had the podium firmly in his sights and by the end of the second lap was into third. Holding off challenges from his rivals, Johnston crossed the line third just 0.185s from second place.
Meanwhile teammate Ian Hutchinson enjoyed a successful NW200 with the Honda Racing team, as he made his return to racing. Working throughout the week to optimise the settings on the Fireblade and after a retirement in the first race, ‘Hutchy’ showed good pace and progress in the final Superbike race, crossing the line 11th.
The team will now prepare for the Isle of Man TT races, which take place 26 May – 8 June, with first Superbike practice getting underway on Monday 28 May.
Ian Hutchinson 9
We’ve got a lot of positives to be had from a successful North West 200 and the results at the end of the week show the progress we’ve made with the set-up of the bike and also for my return to racing. The team and I have worked a lot on the set-up of the Fireblade to find a good feeling and in the final race I felt comfortable with the package we have. We can now turn our focus to the TT, where we hope to continue building the good work and getting up into sharp end. Thanks to all the team for their efforts out here!
Lee Johnston 13
I’m leaving the North West 200 happy and feeling really positive with the Fireblade and the package we have. The first Superbike race we came from tenth on the grid right up into second place on the last lap, but after some rider error we finished fourth! I just outbraked myself coming into Juniper Hill and lost the spot, otherwise we’d have taken second in the first race. The second race again we came from a little way back into third place. I almost took second place on the final lap, but came home third, which I’m really happy about. I’m feeling confident and good ahead of the TT and now just can’t wait to get going!
I think the North West 200 has been very successful for Honda. Lee scored podiums with both Padgetts and us in the Superbike race, and showed podium pace in the first race. He’s in a very good position heading to the TT, he’s confident with the Fireblade and has shown he’s competitive at the front. Ian has done exceptionally well, he’s made progress, he’s feeling good and all the changes we have made to the CBR have been positive. He’s happy and that is the main thing, I think he’s achieved more than anyone could have expected from him returning from injury, so he’s now prepared and in a good position going forward.
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Road Racing 2018
|1||Glenn Irwin||2||BE WISER DUCATI RACING TEAM||Ducati||30:43.811|
|2||Michael Dunlop||3||TYCO BMW MOTORRAD||BMW||+9.962|
|3||Lee Johnston||13||Honda Racing||Honda||+10.147|
|4||Martin Jessopp||40||RIDERS MOTORCYCLES BMW||BMW||+10.328|
|5||Conor Cummins||10||Padgetts Honda||Honda||+10.655|
|6||Dean Harrison||8||SILICONE ENGINEERING RACING||Kawasaki||+12.142|
|7||Michael Rutter||4||BATHAMS RACING||BMW||+13.523|
|8||Gary Johnson||7||RAF Regular & Reserves||Kawasaki||+36.555|
|9||James Hillier||37||QUATTRO PLANT / JG SPEEDFIT||Kawasaki||+36.836|
|10||Alastair Seeley||34||TYCO BMW MOTORRAD||BMW||+38.808|
|11||Ian Hutchinson||9||Honda Racing||Honda||+57.595|