Lee Johnston will make a welcome return to the Isle of Man TT Races with the Ashcourt Racing team, confirming his 2024 entry having been forced out from last year’s event through injury.
Johnston missed the 2023 event due to life-threatening injuries sustained at the preceding North West 200, but will line up on Glencrutchery Road in just over four months’ time, campaigning a Honda CBR1000RR-R SP in the RST Superbike, RL360 Superstock and Milwaukee Senior Races, and an Aprilia RS 660 in the two Carole Nash Supertwin Races.
Winner of the opening Monster Energy Supersport Race in 2019, the Ulsterman will also contest that class but is yet to announce his choice of machinery.
The news will come as no surprise to regular viewers of his YouTube channel, but Johnston’s announcement today officially marks his return to racing.
Still working his way back to full fitness, the 34-year-old has completed a number of tests over the winter period and has more planned in the upcoming months before his season gets underway.
Lee Johnston: “It’s never good to miss a year at the TT, but even more so when the weather was as good as it was last year. The amount of track time and the sheer number of laps completed saw the game move on considerably. You’ve got to do 130mph+ now to win a Supersport race which is unreal.”
“I’m being realistic about it. This will be somewhat of a rebuilding year but I can’t wait to get back on my bike at the TT. Obviously I want to do as well as possible, particularly in the Supersport and Supertwin Races, but I want to enjoy it as well.”
Aside from the Aprilia, Johnston will be lining up on all-new machinery in each category having moved from BMW to Honda for the 1000cc classes, and changing manufacturer in the Supersport class, too. It’s something he recognises will take time to adjust to:
“I’ve got to let the two weeks come to me and not get frustrated. Everyone else will be quicker than me at the beginning of the fortnight as I’ve obviously missed a lot of track time, not just at the TT but everywhere else too, and we haven’t got any data to go on with the Hondas or the Supersport bike.”
“We’ll be behind the eight-ball a bit to begin with but that’s why we’ll be testing as much as possible before the TT gets underway. Racers aren’t known for their patience but I’m old enough to know there’s nothing to gain by getting frustrated. We’ll work our way methodically through the process and set realistic goals. Anything else will be a bonus.”
It’s been a long road to recovery for Johnston and he admits there’s still a way to go, but he’s confident he won’t be far off his best when the first British Championship round gets underway in mid-April:
“I’d say I’m at about 80% fitness right now. That’s amazing considering where I was and I’m feeling really good. Of course, some days are worse than others but I’m feeling positive and am going to try and win some races in 2024.”
“After the injuries I received last year, many people assumed I’d be quitting but it’s not for them to say that as they don’t know what racing means to me, and one thing I learnt from watching from the sofa last year is that I’m not done with racing yet. There’s a lot of life and a lot of races in me yet.”
As well as the Isle of Man TT, Johnston will return to the North West 200 and also plans to contest a full season in the British Supersport Championship having finished third and fourth overall in 2021 and 2022 respectively. After winning the first two races, he was leading last year’s championship prior to his accident:
“I definitely want to try and do the full British Championship if I can. Financially, we’re not quite there yet and still need some backing to make it happen, but I want to do it for sure. 2021 and 2022 went well and so did the beginning of last year, so I want to challenge for the title again.”