22 years after making his first visit to Portrush, road racing legend John McGuinness is looking forward to this year’s Vauxhall International North West 200.
“I want to come and enjoy the decent whole event but don’t count me out of the results.” he says with a smile.
“Beating Alastair Seeley and some of these young guys might be a bit of an ask for sure but I still feel that I can win at the North West.” the 43 year old says.
The Morecambe man will ride the factory CBR1000RR Honda in both superbike races in May alongside appearances on the Jackson Racing CBR600RR Honda in the Supersport events.
McGuinness’s focus may be firmly on the Isle of Man TT these days, where he is chasing Joey Dunlop’s all-time record of 26 victories. But the Honda star still feels he has the pace to mix it in the cut and thrust of the mass start races at the NW200.
“The North West is part of the fixture and fittings of the road racing year for me and I wouldn’t miss it.” he says.
“It will be my first road race of the season and I am looking forward to being there and mixing it with the best road racers in the world. They will all be there.”
“I really don’t see any reason why I can’t win.” The six time North West winner says.
“I finished sixth last year and went home happy. I was only 1.3 seconds off winning the race so I was in touch with everyone.”
McGuinness and teammate Conor Cummins, who will ride alongside his teammate in both the official Honda squad and on the Jackson Racing machines at Portrush, will be competing in the Le Mans 24 race in France this weekend. The duo recently completed test sessions in France and England and McGuinness says he is very happy with the 2016 version of the evergreen Honda superbike.
“It is an evolution of last year’s model and we have a bit more power.” he says.
“I was faster at Monteblanco than I’ve ever been before and I did 108 laps at Castle Coombe. That isn’t easy on a superbike and I didn’t feel like I’d laid a 1000 blocks!” the former brickie joked.
“The old fire is still there and I am riding better than I have ever ridden before so we will see how it goes but don’t rule me out.”