Honda Motor Europe has revealed a four-strong rider line-up for the Honda TT Legends team as it prepares for an all-important second year of competition in the FIM Endurance World Championship and at selected road racing events. The team will launch its assault on the world’s toughest track and road races aboard the 2012 version of the CBR1000RR Fireblade as Honda celebrates the 20th anniversary of the legendary machine.
Seventeen-times Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness and road racing ace Cameron Donald will remain with the Honda TT Legends for 2012 and will be joined by British Superstock and road racing star Gary Johnson and 2011 fastest TT newcomer Simon Andrews. All four riders will contest the 2012 Endurance World Championship while McGuinness and Andrews will make up a two-man team for the Isle of Man TT and the Northwest 200.
Donald and Johnson will remain in the Honda family at both road racing events, competing for Wilson Craig Honda and Padgetts of Batley respectively. Johnson will also contest the 2012 British Superstock Championship with Honda (UK) Racing.
Neil Tuxworth – team manager
We went into the 2011 EWC as a novice team and it was very much a development year – not just for the riders but for the whole crew. Honda was keen to showcase the Fireblade in a different environment to that of short circuit racing – the festival-type atmosphere enjoyed by thousands of fans at the Isle of Man TT and the 24hr endurance races has to be experienced to be believed! We had a good first year, but now the focus is on improvement with the ultimate goal being the podium. We have the 2012 Combined ABS-equipped Fireblade, two riders with a year of EWC under their belts and two new and enthusiastic riders who can’t wait to get stuck in so we’re very positive about the season ahead. When it to comes to the TT, what better line-up than the fastest man around the course and the 2011 fastest newcomer? It’s going to be an exciting year.
Last year was definitely a learning year for the team and now it’s time to up our game in EWC. We did a lot of development on the bike last season, particularly at the last couple of rounds with the introduction of Combined ABS. We were knocking on the door of the podium and this year we’ll hopefully go one step further and get up there. We’ve got a great crew and after year one we all know what we’re doing and what the aims are for 2012 so things are looking good. The fact that’s it’s the 20th anniversary of the Fireblade makes it all the more exciting. Each time Honda brings out an updated model it’s a big step forward so I’m looking forward to racing it. I’ve had some of the most memorable career moments on the Fireblade and with any luck we’ll be adding to the list this year.
I am genuinely excited about the year ahead. To be asked to join the Honda TT Legends team is a real honour and I can’t wait for the season to get started. I have done a couple of endurance races – one being the Le Mans 24-hour – so I do know what to expect but I’m sure the full championship will be a real challenge. I’m a rider that rides better with miles under my belt, so the endurance side of things will without doubt help with the road racing. To be riding alongside the legend that is John McGuinness at the Isle of Man TT is big business and I’m hoping he’ll have one or two pointers for me! There is no better person to learn from.
Last year was my first taste of World Endurance and I loved the new challenge. I was entering the unknown at every race and I had some of the best experiences of my racing career. I am sure that it has improved the way I ride a race bike and I am looking forward to building on that knowledge in 2011. As a team, we learned so much last year and secured a couple of top five finishes but now its time to step it up, focus on improving and hopefully make some appearances on that podium.
I’ve wanted to get involved in endurance racing for years so I’m really excited about riding for the Honda TT Legends. It is by far the most professional team I have worked with and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. It’s a brilliant opportunity to travel to and race at many circuits that I haven’t ridden before. I’ve no doubt that it is going to be a challenge, but it is one that I am more than up for.