David Johnson will ride for Northern Ireland’s Tyco BMW team at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix next week on the exotic HP4 Race machine.
The Australian rider competed at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT for Shaun Muir’s Gulf BMW squad but has made the switch to Philip and Hector Neil’s Moneymore-based team for the last of the ‘big three’ international road races at Dundrod.
Johnson will ride the 215bhp BMW – the first motorcycle to feature a carbon frame – as he targets his maiden podium at the event.
The 34-year-old was in excellent form at the TT in June, where he finished fourth in the Superbike and Superstock races, and Johnson is setting his sights high at Dundrod, where he hopes to be in the mix with form men Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison.
“The Ulster is one of my favourite tracks so it’s great to have this opportunity with Tyco,” he said.
“The team knows what they’re doing and are proven winners around here, and with the HP4 Race I’ll also have the machinery to challenge with for sure. The bikes will be amazing so it’s all down to me.
“I’ve been on BMWs all year and was riding them at Dundrod in 2017 too, so I’m feeling good and should be up to speed right away,” added Johnson, who earned his best result at the Ulster GP last year after finishing fourth in the Superstock race.
“It’s always hard to know until you get there, but for me the big goal is to get on the podium and be in the fight for wins with ‘Hicky’, Dean and guys right at the front. If we come away with that I’ll be happy.”
The news casts doubt on Ballymoney man Michael Dunlop’s participation at Dundrod.
Dunlop won the Superbike TT on the Tyco BMW but hasn’t raced since his older brother, William, was tragically killed in a crash during practice for the Skerries 100.
Manx rider Dan Kneen began the season with the Ulster team but was sadly killed in a crash in practice at the TT.
New Tyco recruit Johnson hasn’t always enjoyed the best of luck at Dundrod and suffering a string of injuries following a crash on the Wilson Craig Honda during practice at the meeting in 2016, sustaining a broken left shoulder, broken knee, four broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a fractured vertebra.
As such, Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston says he is pleased the Aussie has been offered an excellent opportunity this year to banish those memories by challenging for the podium.
“There’s no question that ‘Davo’ is a fast, fast rider, but he hasn’t always had the best of luck around Dundrod, so I’m really pleased to see him get this chance,” he said.
“He definitely has the pace to run at the sharp end on the big bikes, but now he also has the added support of the Tyco team behind him, I think it could make all the difference.
“They’ve been winning around here, for well over a decade, so you just couldn’t rule him out of a good result.”
Practice gets underway next Wednesday, August 8, with final qualifying and the first four races on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s main race programme on Saturday.