Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 10 Dec 2014
Gary Johnson has said he is the most confident he's ever been heading into a TT after securing factory backing from Kawasaki for next year's event.
Johnson will compete on board a factory-spec ZX-10R, not too far off the bikes run by Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes in the WSB, in the Superbike and Senior races for the GBmoto outfit, which is set to take on the roads for the first time under the official Kawasaki banner. The Lincolnshire man will also ride Kawasaki machinery for the team in the Superstock TT race and at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.
Johnson said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to be working with such a great team and so closely with a major manufacturer, I’m really happy".
Although it is GBmoto's first attempt at the Isle of Man TT, the experienced rider who claimed his second win around the mountain course in Supersport class on a Triumph this year, is confident in the team's ability to operate at the highest level.
He said: "I rode for GBmoto in 2011, they were one of the most professional teams I’ve ever worked with and they’ve obviously stepped up again since then. To see what they did this year in BSB by changing manufacturers and immediately getting podiums was incredible. Their infrastructure, bikes and kit is all mega and although this is their first time at the TT I know they will put all the right pieces in the right places, to be successful."
Johnson is now one of the most experienced men around the fearsome Isle of Man TT course. Last year he was also a favourite for victory in the 1000 Superstock category, but a crash in the early stages brought his promising 2014 campaign to a premature end.
Johnson said: "Hopefully I can bring my own experience to the team from both the events side and with a good reference point from riding a Kawasaki. I have to thank the guys who have worked so hard to help me in the last few years, it’s because of them that I’ve been put in the shop window for this opportunity. With the support of GBmoto and Kawasaki and their testing schedule I’m the most confident I’ve ever been going into the TT and the other events, so bring it on!”
The GBmoto team first entered the British Superbike Championship in 2012 and have progressed through the ranks every season since. In 2014, they joined the Kawasaki stable and stepped up to the plate, challenging for the BSB championship with James Ellison and Chris Walker.
While remaining in the British Championship with new sponsor JG Speedfit and riders James Ellison and James Westmoreland, team boss Mark Smith-Halvorsen is now seeking success on the roads as well.
It is believed Kawasaki had originally lined up 11-times TT winner Michael Dunlop for the seat, but the outfit were forced to reconsider their options when the Ulsterman allegedly failed to turn up for a meeting at Motorcycle Live last month.