Johnson bags Uel Duncan Honda NW200 ride

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It should be no surprise that Gary Johnson has been snapped up for this year by the Uel Duncan Honda team after his sensational performances on the roads in 2007.

MCN spoke to the 27-year-old electrician at last week’s launch of the 2008 North West 200 at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

MCN: Gary, how did this deal happen and what’s the plan for the season ahead?
Johnson: I was talking to Uel mid-way through last year about this season and when Cameron left it created an opening for me. I’m doing the North West, TT and Ulster GP but I’m also doing five nationals too: Cookstown, Kells, Skerries, Mid Antrim and the Southern 100.

MCN: You’ve no experience of the smaller road races. What’s the attraction?
Johnson: JMF Millsport offered me the chance to do them first but then I did Uel came in to offer me this ride. I’m up for the challenge. I was a never a big fan of the roads but as soon as I did one, I was hooked. It’s a biggest adrenaline buzz you can get. I want to do as many races as I can next year.

MCN: What else do you have in mind?
Johnson: I’m looking into doing Daytona. It’s pre-season, it’s massive and I want to tick it off. I’m also doing all the British rounds I can plus the two Scarboroughs and hopefully Macau. Uel is providing me with a new Blade for the National Superstock series which I’l use on the roads and maybe a 600 too.

MCN: You had a great 2007. What’s your special memory of the season?
Johnson: I did a 126.5mph lap at the Ulster GP after eight laps of practice. But then the weather turned bad.  I think the TT spoke for itself. I was well pleased with my Superbike result on the superstock bike and to be 12th in the Superstock race was good, especially as I got a silver replica which was more than I expected when I arrived on the Island for my first TT.  I was actually disappointed with my Senior race. We fitted slicks for the first time and it radically changed the handling of my superstocker. It tankslapped everywhere.  At first I thought the rear wheel was loose then I figured it was suspension. I was a bit frustrated because I felt I could have gone quicker.

MCN: You obviously learn tracks fast. What was your plan with at the TT last year?
Johnson: I didn’t watch any TT videos or anything like before going to the Island. I did two laps in the back of a car with Martin (Finnegan). I did the first lap behind the marshall and second lap I was with Plater. After that I got the DJ video and watched where he held it flat out. I learned the course section by section from that.

MCN: What about the North West 200?
Johnson: I’m looking forward to this year and fairly relaxed about it. I went around the course in a bus and it suddenly sunk in how you have to ride.  In the first practice I couldn’t get over holding the bike flat out for so long. It felt uncomfortable but by the third lap I was like, let’s have it then!’

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin