Honda Racing UK have turned to Manxman Nathan Harrison to line-up with 23-time Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness for the full 2023 international road racing campaign, with both contesting in the Superbike and Superstock classes.
As the most successful manufacturer to grace the 37.7-mile course, the Louth based outfit endured a positive 2022 ‘on the roads’, with former employee Glenn Irwin taking both Superbike race wins at the North West 200, and becoming the fastest newcomer around the Isle of Man TT.
However, the Northern Irishman’s move back to the PBM Ducati team for the 2023 Bennetts BSB campaign has forged a place for Manxman Nathan Harrison to team up with his childhood hero, John McGuinness.
McGuinness celebrated his 100th TT start in 2022, finishing fifth in the standings, giving the Fireblade a solid campaign in its 30th anniversary. Although the Morecambe man still believed he had more to give, giving him added motivation ahead of 2023.
23-time TT winner ain’t quitting yet
“I’m over the moon, I’m happy as Larry really,” McGuinness said in an exclusive interview with BikeSocial. “It’s what I like, consistency, I’ve had a long relationship with the team and Honda. Going forward from last year, it was a solid performance really, the Fireblade for me finished every race, I could have done slightly better but there was a lot of pressure.
“I was 50 years old, 100th start, 30th anniversary of the blade, so this year I need to get down to business and get on with racing the bike. I’m looking forward to it, I must be mad, but I am looking forward to it. I sound like a bit of a broken record really, ‘am I too old and should I be doing it?’, but we’re sat here on the Isle of Man now and the love for it, the fire for it, is still there.
“50 is just a number for me, from the outside looking in maybe I should move over and let someone else have a go, but I still enjoy it. Hopefully I can give something back, we’ll keep going while we can because one day it’s going to stop, and I’ll not be able to get back on one. So, while I can do it, I will.”
John took part in his first TT before Nathan was even born!
The 50-year-old will be joined by Onchan resident Harrison, who enjoyed a fantastic debut TT with his family run team in 2022. Harrison finished all five races he competed in, taking a best finish of 10th in the Senior, while also collecting two silver replicas and three bronze replicas. He was voted Monster Energy People’s Challenger winner.
It’s been a fast rise to stardom for the tyre & service centre owner, after just two Max Grand Prix’s, the second in which he won both Senior and Junior races in 2019. He would also take to the podium in the Classic Superbike race at the 2022 Manx Grand Prix, achieving the fastest lap of the race on the final lap onboard the Greenall Racing Kawasaki in the process, taking second place.
However, Harrison understands the task in front of him, but expressed to BikeSocial in an exclusive interview that he’ll do everything possible to enjoy the moment and make the most of the opportunity he’s been given.
“It’s sinking in, obviously as the days go by it’s sinking in more, but it’s a proper dream come true and I’m soaking it all up and relishing the opportunity,” he told BikeSocial. “I’d been building a relationship with Harv throughout 2022 while running my own team, and I had a suspicion that there could be an opportunity, but I sat back and let it come, then the phone rang. I just couldn’t sleep after it I was that excited, Honda is the most successful team at the TT, so to be offered an opportunity for it is unreal.
“I thought if any teams were to come knocking it would be the three big ones, but I thought if they were to come knocking it would be too soon because I’d just done my first TT. It was a bit of a surprise, my bikes are ready to go for 2023, but this is an opportunity you can’t turn down, I have to take it, Honda are the best team in the paddock.
“It’s my second TT, I’m just going to do what I always do, I haven’t set myself any expectations, but I have set some personal goals that I keep to myself. I’m going to enjoy this, I’m going to enjoy my riding and see where we end up.”
Both John and Nathan will be participating in selected rounds of the Pirelli National Superstock Championship at the Bennetts British Superbike series in preparation for their assault on the roads in 2023.