Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston came out of the Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week as the latest in a long line of hot young prospects primed for top honours at the three main international road races.
This weekend it’s a change of codes, as he aims to put himself in pole position in the Adelaide Masters series, which takes place on Saturday at Bishopscourt.
Currently holding second place in the Masters’ Superbike class behind Brian McCormack, the Maguiresbridge lad — affectionately known as ‘General Lee’ — explained: “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind winning the Masters this year on the Millsport Ducati.
“I’m not sure how the points work but hopefully I’ll be leading it coming out of Bishopscourt.”
The talented 23-year-old, who won the inaugural National Superstock 600cc championship back in 2008, has been dabbling at the international road racing scene since making his debut at the North West 200 in the very same year, but his impressive showing at Dundrod just last week has finally made a few people sit up and take notice.
In the Dundrod 150 races, he took both National and Challenge race victories, with a new lap record to boot.
Then on Ulster Grand Prix race day, he stunned a plethora of top road racing regulars with third place in the opening Supersport race, ahead of top names Conor Cummins, Guy Martin and Michael Dunlop.
In the opening race of the day, the Superstock encounter, he took sixth place on the exotic Millsport Racing 1199cc Panigale Ducati, backing that up with fifth in the second middleweight outing, but it was back down to earth with a bump on Monday morning.
“I went from hero to zero as I was back in work at 5.30am on Monday,” joked Johnston, who now lives and works in England for East Coast Construction, his personal sponsor and for whom he rode last year in the British championship.
On his Dundrod performances he said: “I’m delighted with how it went. The road racing scene is pretty laid back. You just go and race your bike, but the top guys are very, very fast.
“I’m not daft, I learnt a lot more in Saturday’s races than I did the rest of the week, and it was certainly easier to follow in places.”
He respectfully added: “I don’t know the name of all the corners, but following Conor Cummins and Michael Dunlop in those two races was an education.
“I felt a bit bad beating Conor in the Supersport race that was red flagged, as I was holding him up in places. Hopefully I can go back next year and do even better.”
The Supersport machine Johnston used at Dundrod was borrowed from former team-mate at East Coast Racing Gary Johnson.
Unfortunately he will not have that machine at his disposal on Saturday — but the affable young rider will be worth keeping an eye on in the Superbike class on the Millsport Racing Ducati.