Australian rider David Johnson has struck a deal with Wilson Craig Racing to ride a stable of Honda machines at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix next week.
Johnson became the fastest ever Aussie to lap the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course this summer, taking over the mantle from Cameron Donald after lapping close to 131mph on his way to an excellent seventh place in the RST Superbike race on the Norton SG5.
Two-time TT winner Donald, who was due to ride alongside Johnson in the Norton line-up after two years spearheading Stuart Garner’s project, left the team to renew his association with Craig this year.
However, there was to be no repeat of their podium assaults of years gone by as Donald struggled with machine problems and opted to sit out the blue riband Senior race following a highly frustrating fortnight.
Ironically, Johnson has now taken up the ride on Craig’s machines for the Dundrod meeting and the 32-year-old is excited by the prospect of riding a Superbike for the first time around the fast and flowing 7.-4mile course, where he previously competed on Superstock machinery.
“I’m excited to get back with Wilson Craig as I rode for him in 2011 at the Sunflower. His bikes were always very well prepared and fast,” said Johnson, who picked up the best newcomer accolade on his debut at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2010 following a brace of second places in the Dundrod 150 National races.
“I love the Ulster Grand Prix and I’m especially looking forward to racing the Honda Superbike. I’ve only ever raced Superstock bikes at the Ulster, so I'm hoping I can give the boys a run at the front.”
Team owner Craig confirmed Johnson will ride in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races on his CBR Honda machines and said was impressed by his performances at the Isle of Man TT in June, where Johnson also finished ninth in the Superstock race.
“Australia has produced some very good road racers as we’ve seen within our team in the past and I’ve no doubt that David can continue that trend,” he said.
“His results at this year’s Isle of Man TT have proved just that. He’s coming off the back of a fantastic TT and we’re all looking forward to working with him.”
Mullingar’s Derek McGee signed for Craig last year after Jamie Hamilton had rode for the team in 2014.
McGee and Craig went their separate ways shortly after the TT, with Ballymoney’s Seamus Elliott handed the chance to ride for the team at Armoy and the Ulster Grand Prix.
Czech rider Michal ‘Indy’ Dokoupil has rode at selected Irish National races this year on Craig’s Honda Superstock machine.
The Ulster team owner has worked with some of the sport’s biggest names in the past, including Keith Amor, Guy Martin and William Dunlop.