New Honda Racing riders revealed: Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston
Although new to the team for 2018, Hutchinson and Johnston share a close history with Honda. The 38-year-old Hutchinson – a.k.a the ‘Bingley Bullet’ – is a 16-time TT winner with a whopping 27 TT podiums to his name. In 2010 he claimed a historic five TT victories in one week with the Padgetts Honda team – and now has his sights set on earning a maiden road-racing win for the Fireblade SP2.
Johnston, a former National Superstock 600 Champion, debuted at the North West 200 in 2008 and Isle of Man TT in 2012. Since then, ‘The General’ made a big name for himself, scooping up three wins and six podiums at the North West 200, and two podiums at the Isle of Man TT. He’s also got close ties to the Louth-based squad, having worked closely with the Honda Endurance Racing team as its Le Mans 24-hour reserve rider.
It’s a match made in heaven – both for Honda and the Fireblade. The former is still the most successful manufacturer at the Isle of Man TT, while the latter is the most successful 1000cc machine at the TT’s 37.73-mile circuit, with a staggering 23 victories. Unsurprisingly, hopes are high for the new duo’s debut at the North West 200 in May.
See below for the full 2018 Road Racing
schedule, and keep up to date with all the latest news from the team
@HondaRacingCBR. Plus, to find out more about the award-winning,
record-breaking Honda Fireblade, click here.
2018 Road Racing Schedule
North West 200: 13-19 May
Isle of Man TT: 26 May - 8 June
Ulster GP: 5-11 August
I’m really looking forward to getting started with Honda Racing; it’s a new challenge and a fresh start for me. I suppose I have quite a bit of history with Honda, ten years ago I rode with this official team and in 2009/2010 I rode with Padgetts Honda, where I scored five-TT wins in a week, so I know the Fireblade pretty well. I haven’t ridden the Fireblade SP2 yet and will have to wait until we go testing early next year, but I can’t wait to start making some progress. The Honda team has a lot of experience at the TT and its history speaks for itself with the wins and successes over the years, it’s also nice to see a lot of the team still here who I worked with in the past, so I’m confident that come the New Year we can get started and start aiming to where we want to be.
I am genuinely excited about being with Honda Racing next year, I’m probably the most excited I’ve been in years if I’m honest! I have had two tough years and it’s nice to have everything organised and in place early so I have nothing to worry about apart from riding motorbikes. So that for me is the biggest thing and what I wanted more than anything, as I have no outside distractions and I can just concentrate on doing my job. I’ve ridden the Fireblade SP2 already at Le Mans, when I was a reserve rider for the Honda Endurance Racing team, so I’ve got a bit of a head start in that respect. I enjoy riding the CBR, the tank fits me well and it isn’t as big as it looks! I just can’t wait now for testing to start in March and just get going with the new programme for the year.
I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to sign both Hutchy and Lee for our 2018 roads campaign. Hutchy’s record speaks for itself and especially so when he’s been on a Honda. Whilst always being aware of his determination and professionalism, this has been highlighted to me even more so when striking up the deal. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the SP2 at our opening test, he has plenty of past experience on the Fireblade, so I’m sure it won’t take him too long until he’s pushing on and able to feedback what he needs. Lee has always impressed me, he joined the Honda Endurance Racing team as a reserve rider for the Le Mans 24-hour and since then we had been watching from a roads perspective. He clearly has a talent on the roads and I am positive with the team we have, the Fireblade SP2 and the plans we have for the season that he can show his full potential. We’re really looking forward to working together and personally I can’t wait for us to be back on the roads.