John McGuinness will be one of the most popular riders at the 80th Anniversary Kennedy Group International North West 200 tomorrow with a huge following among the tens of thousands of fans who will line the 8.966mile circuit.
And the Morecambe ace aims to give his supporters plenty to cheer about.
“Not only do I have a big fan base here in Ireland, but I have many friends from England who come across to support me including many bike clubs that I support back home,” he said.
McGuinness, a former bricklayer, made his North West debut in 1994, hasn’t missed a year since and has 15 podiums in that time.
McGuinness, who set his stall out early by finishing second fastest to Kiwi Bruce Anstey in the first superbike qualifying session, is the outright lap record holder at the Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix — and is a four times winner at the North West.
He would dearly love a superbike race win tomorrow.
“I won the first superbike race in 2007, but it was declared a result after two laps and it would be nice to win a full distance race this year.
“I’ll be going out there to have a fast, safe and enjoyable race. If that takes me to a win, great. If not, it’s not the end of the world. There are a lot of fast riders out there capable of winning either of the two superbike races so it should be an entertaining encounter.”
The ‘Morecambe Flyer’ is also in action for HM Plant Honda in the supersport races and in the 250cc race, riding a Padgett’s Honda.
McGuinness loves his two-stroke racing, saying: “That’s where I cut my racing teeth riding a KR1S in club events, a bike I also rode to college during the week.
“I still like to support the two-stroke classes whenever I can and the North West allows me to do this as I don’t ride in the superstock class here.”
McGuinness is a former 250cc British Champion and won this particular class at the North West in 2000.
However it is the superbike class where the prestige lies and with Honda celebrating their 50th year in road racing McGuinness would love to give the factory success here tomorrow.
He said: “Nobody wants to win a North West 200 race more than me and I have the tools to do the job in the HM Plant machines.
“Hopefully I can make a good start and be with the leading pack at York Corner on that opening lap.”
McGuinness (pictured below with Michael Rutter) has the pedigree and the machinery to add to his 15 podiums tomorrow and send his supporters home happy.