Roads: John McGuinness makes sensational return to Honda for 2022
John McGuinness has re-joined Honda for the 2022 road racing season and will compete at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
The 23-times TT race winner will line-up alongside Honda BSB rider, and TT newcomer, Glenn Irwin at both events, and plans are also in place for a full testing and short circuit racing programme prior to the road events.
McGuinness left Honda’s roads team in early 2018 following his accident at the North West 200 the previous year, which left him with multiple serious injuries. He has won 12 TT races onboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade, including five Superbike and six Senior race wins, plus one Superstock victory in 2012.
After leaving Honda, McGuinness joined Norton in 2018 but missed the TT with a broken leg, before retiring from both the Superbike and Senior events the following year with technical problems. McGuinness had signed with Bournemouth Kawasaki for his 2020 and 2021 road racing campaigns, but both seasons were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What can I say really, it’s like coming back home to the family! I’ve been in talks for a while with Neil and Harv and it’s just something that feels right; it’s the 30th anniversary of the Fireblade, I’ll be 50 years old and also celebrating my 100th TT start, so it feels like it’s meant to be,” McGuinness said.
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“I’ve enjoyed a lot of success on the roads with the Honda and worked with Harv back in the day with HM Plant Honda, so I’m looking forward to getting back into the set-up and getting going. I had a little go on the Fireblade earlier this year and was impressed with it on-track, so looking forward to getting on the roads and seeing how it goes.”
The Honda Racing UK team will be taking part in both the Superstock and Superbike classes at the NW200 and IOMTT Races, as well as the blue-riband Senior TT – which McGuinness won onboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade in 2015.
The opening Superbike race of the 2022 TT will mark an incredible milestone for McGuinness, who will be entering his 100th Isle of Man TT race. McGuinness is set to run a special 30th Anniversary red, white, and blue livery inspired by the design launched with the original Fireblade in 1992.
“I’m really pleased we’ve been able to work with John on a deal for 2022, it’s going to be an exciting season for us all with the 30th anniversary of the Fireblade and John’s 100th TT start, and for him to do this back with Honda just made complete sense,” team manager Havier Beltran added.
“Honda has so much history with John at the TT and 12 of the 20 wins for the CBR1000RR Fireblade have been with him, so for us all this is very much a homecoming. From a Honda point of view, this will be Honda UK’s first time back at both the North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT races since 2010, so we’re all excited to get back on the roads with the new Fireblade.”
McGuinness is the perfect teammate for newcomer Irwin, who has had to wait two years to make his debut due to the event being cancelled due to the pandemic. With no road racing, Irwin has been developing the latest generation of Fireblade in BSB, securing two victories and 10 podiums in the last two seasons.
“Finally, I’ll be making my long-awaited TT debut with Honda,” Irwin said. “We’re now more familiar with the new Fireblade and the team is more familiar; I like to have home comforts as such and continuing with the bike and the same team I think puts us in a better position with frame of mind. We still have no targets set and no expectations for the Isle of Man TT, we’re going there to learn and enjoy.
“It’s incredible to have someone like John as my teammate on the roads, he’s someone I have looked up to and is probably the second greatest TT rider after another Honda-man Joey! To have that opportunity to be able to learn off him, and able to be part of the team, see everything first-hand and to learn off him experiencing the ‘McGuinness-factor’ is something I am really excited about!
“On the flip side, we go to the North West 200 where we can work together and I think we can realistically set targets there – I would love to achieve Honda’s first international road race win on the new Fireblade at the NW200 and add to my Superbike wins there.”
The 2022 North West 200 is due to take place on May 10-14, and will be followed by the Isle of Man TT on May 28 – June 11.