Johnson spearheads MV Augusta NW200 return

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 11/8/2011: Gary Johnson (East Coast Honda) at the Dundrod 150 today.  'PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 11/8/2011: Gary Johnson (East Coast Honda) at the Dundrod 150 today. 'PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Gary Johnson will spearhead the return of iconic Italian marque MV Agusta at the Vauxhall North West 200 in May in a new venture led by tuning legend Jack Valentine.

Lincolnshire star Johnson will ride an F3 675 in the Supersport races under Valentine’s resurrected ValMoto banner in the factory-supported outfit.

Johnson - a winner in the Supersport class at the Isle of Man TT in 2011 - will also compete on the Mountain Course in June for Valentine and at the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod in August.

The 30-year-old will ride a Honda Fireblade in the feature classes at all three international roads meetings this season.

Valentine, who managed the Fixi Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team in 2012, has a proven track record at the internationals and was instrumental in the success of fallen legend David Jefferies.

He also oversaw the return of British manufacturer Triumph to the TT in 2003, when Kiwi Bruce Anstey claimed a fairy tale victory.

The team will work closely with the ParkinGO World Supersport MV Agusta outfit to share development and set-up knowledge.

Johnson said he was ‘honoured’ to have the opportunity to ride the factory machines on the roads in 2013, starting at the North West in May.

“I’m really looking forward to this year’s road racing season running the MV Agusta F3 675 under the ValMoto banner,” he said.

“Jack is one of the most experienced owners in the industry with a first class reputation and a proven success record on the roads.

“I’m honoured to be part of the team and am confident that together we can achieve some positive results this year.”

NW200 event director, Mervyn Whyte, said he the return of MV Agusta would generate huge interest among fans.

“Gary will ride the bikes in the Supersport races and there will be a lot of interest in the bikes - it’s been a long time since there was an MV Agusta at the North West,” he said.

“We have a top quality line-up at the North West 200 and we’re not finished yet.

“When you look at the riders we have then I’m sure we’re going to see some first class racing.”