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Racer packs a punch as he prepares for bike festival

By Cate McCurry

Published 10/05/2016

North West 200 racer Lee Johnston with boxer Carl Frampton after their sparring session
North West 200 racer Lee Johnston with boxer Carl Frampton after their sparring session
Lee Johnston and Carl Frampton sparring
Lee Johnston in action at the North West 200
Event director Mervyn Whyte celebrates his 66th birthday yesterday

North West 200 pocket rocket Lee Johnston had the toughest warm-up session yet for this week's north coast bike racing festival.

The diminutive Fermanagh racer stepped into the boxing ring to join super bantamweight world title winner Carl Frampton in a sparring session as he battles his way back to fitness following a recent crash.

Johnston, who is one of the big favourites at this weekend's high-octane racing extravaganza, has been in fighting spirit since his accident.

The 27-year-old described Frampton's punching power as "awesome" after their encounter in Belfast.

"It was a privilege to train with Carl; he's the best in the world and now, having been in the ring with him, I have a better understanding of just how good he is," he said.

"He was only toying with me but to witness his punching power is awesome."

Johnston, who won the Superstock race at last year's meeting hasn't enjoyed the best preparation for this year's event after suffering leg injuries in a crash at the Scarborough Spring Cup three weeks ago.

"I am struggling to be fighting fit for the North West but I will go through the pain barrier and give it my best shot," he said.

North West 200 racer Lee Johnston with boxer Carl Frampton after their sparring session (below). Centre: Lee Johnston in action at the North West 200 and (left) event director Mervyn Whyte celebrates his 66th birthday yesterday

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