Belfast Telegraph

John McGuinness is content to fly under the radar after injury woe

By Roy Harris

When one looks at the most wins by machines at the North West 200, Honda lead the way with 94 victories in all classes between Ralph Bryan’s victory in 1964 and John McGuinness in 2013.

Breaking this figure down to the Superbike class alone, the one that all riders and teams want to win as it carries the most prestige, Honda has won 33 times and over the last 10 years and 15 Superbike races, some 11 of them have been won by the mighty Japanese manufacturer.

This time around, the two-man Honda Racing Team of John McGuinness and new recruit Conor Cummins are the ones to front the official Honda effort at the North West.

McGuinness, of course, is a legend amongst road racers, celebrating 20 years racing at the North West this week.

The Isle of Man TT lap record holder, 20 times a TT winner and six times North West 200 winner, is one of the most respected competitors on the grid.

The 42-year-old Morecambe Flyer had been under a cloud recently having crashed an Enduro bike pre-season, suffering a wrist injury that many felt would limit his chances not just at the North West, but also the TT. However intensive physiotherapy has worked wonders.

McGuinness has won three North West 200 Superbike races in 2007, 2010 and 2012 and would usually start as one of the favourites for a win come Saturday, but the injury blow has meant that he has come in under the radar.

That, though, could work in his favour, as he explained.

“When the team were out testing for two days at Castle Coombe last week, I made a massive step forward with re

gards getting on the bike after my injury,” he said.

“When the accident happened I thought my season was over, so I’m made up with how good I felt on the bike.

“I am much more confident about the North West now and can’t wait to ride my Fireblade at one of my favourite events.”

Cummins, meanwhile, had his inaugural outing on the Honda Superbike at the test and described it as ‘mega’.

Of course, the Isle of Man rider has had to fight back to the top of the sport following his horrific TT crash in 2010 and despite the fact that he has yet to score a win at the North West since his debut in 2006, he has the machine below him to chase a podium come the weekend.

“I’m really happy with the Fireblade,” commented the popular Manxman.

“The test was the first time I had thrown a leg over it and it felt good straight away.

“We managed to get a good setting that should work well at the North West and like John, I can’t wait to get out there in practice.”

Other Honda riders likely to figure in the Superbike races include Valvoline Padgetts Bruce Anstey, Gary Johnson on the Lincs Lifting Fireblade, Lee Johnston on East Coast Construction Honda, Jamie Hamilton rides Wilson Craig’s Honda (arguably one of the fastest out there) and Steve Mercer rides the Keith Flint Team Traction Control Honda.

To add to their success at the North West, Honda face a real stiff challenge from the likes of Michael Dunlop and Michael Rutter (BMW), Tyco Suzuki pairing Guy Martin and William Dunlop and Alastair Seeley (Mar-Train Kawasaki)

There will also be a considerable threat from Milwaukee Yamaha duo Josh Brookes and Ian Hutchinson and Dean Harrison and Stuart Easton on Kawasaki’s, while Dan Kneen is on a high having ridden John Burrow’s Cookstown BE Suzuki to wins at Cookstown and Tandragee.

Let the battle commence.

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