The Honda TT Legends team is set to take a break from the Endurance World Championship this week as it prepares to contest Ireland’s most famous road race, the North West 200. The team missed the event last year due to an EWC date clash, but it will be out in force for 2012 with the two-man superbike squad of John McGuinness and Simon Andrews competing aboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade.
John McGuinness first took part in the North West 200 in 1994 at what was also his first ever road racing event. He secured his maiden NW200 win in 2000 and has since claimed four further wins around the 8.9 mile course – the most recent being the Superbike victory in 2010. The 17-times Isle of Man TT winner hopes to add to his tally at the 2012 event.
McGuinness's team-mate and 2011 fastest TT newcomer Simon Andrews will be making his race debut at the North West 200. Andrews took part in the practice sessions last year but did not get the opportunity to compete after the Superbike race was cancelled due to severe wet weather. This year, both Honda TT Legends riders are due to take part in the two Superbike races on Saturday 19 May.
In addition to the two-man Superbike line-up, Honda TT Legends EWC rider Gary Johnson will be competing under the team’s colours in the Superstock class. This will be the Johnson’s fifth year at the NW200.
Neil Tuxworth As the largest sporting event in Northern Ireland with a crowd that often exceeds 100,000, the NW200 is one of the most important events that our team participates in during the year. We have a number of Honda dealers in Northern Ireland so it’s great to take part in an event in their area. For 2012, we have John McGuinness and Simon Andrews competing in both Superbike races and Gary Johnson will contest the Superstock race under the TT Legends banner. These three riders are all capable of winning races at the NW and we hope to continue the success that Honda has achieved in the past.
John McGuinnessThe North West 200 has been part of my racing career for such a long time. It’s 18 years since my first one and I’ve only missed two events in that time – one when it was cancelled due to the foot and mouth crisis and last year when the date clashed with the Albacete round of world endurance. I absolutely love the North West – there is nothing quite like Northern Irish hospitality. It’s a unique circuit and we race wheel-to-wheel at incredibly high speeds. It will be really nice to make a return to the event for 2012 and I hope we can make it count.
Simon AndrewsI took part in the practice sessions last year, so I while I have some limited experience of the North West 200 circuit, I’m still classed as a newcomer this year as I didn’t actually race. I do know that it’s very, very fast and I’m looking forward to getting out there and hopefully being able to compete in the race itself. It’s pretty wet here at the moment so we’re all hoping it clears up over the next few days and we get to give the massive crowd that make the journey here a good show.
Gary Johnson I’m excited to be involved in the North West 200 under the Honda TT Legends banner and I’m looking forward to road racing with a such a high profile team. I hope I can achieve the best results possible in the two Superstock races.
The week-long North West 200 festival kicked off on Saturday 12 May and features a whole host of activities to entertain all ages – from paddock walkabouts and rider meet and greets to live music and firework displays. To view the whole schedule visit northwest200.org/race-week-festival.aspx