John McGuinness has gone back to his roots as the Morecambe rider prepares to run his own Honda Fireblade Superstock machine this year.
McGuinness parted amicably with Clive Padgett’s Valvoline Racing team due to a clash of oil sponsors with the factory Honda Racing team and will run his own ’stocker at the North West 200 and TT this year out of the back of a Vauxhall van.
The 43-year-old, who is entering into an incredible 25th year of racing, will also ride a Honda Supersport machine for Jackson Racing.
“It’s been a long time since I had to lift the phone and ask people for help,” McGuinness said.
“I still wanted to ride in the Superstock class and a lot of loyal sponsors and good friends came forward to chip in a few quid to help me buy the bike and run it.”
McGuinness’s Superstock machine will run in the livery of EMC2, a huge analytics and data storage company, and also features graphics highlighting his 25th season in the saddle.
The 43-year-old is part of the official Honda Racing team once more, teaming up with Conor Cummins to ride the Fireblade SP Superbike and also joining the Manxman in the Jackson Racing colours for the 600cc races.
“It will be hard to compete against an eight-stone whippet like Alastair Seeley on a 300bhp BMW here,” McGuinness joked as he weighs up his chances of a seventh victory on the north coast.
“But I will be doing my own thing and I will be looking for a good, solid competitive ride here.
“You can come to the North West and with the slipstreaming and conditions playing a part you could finish fourth and still have a great ride.”
The North West was the very first road race McGuiness competed in back in 1994 and the popular English rider fondly remembers his debut at the event, which he attended with his then girlfriend Becky (now his wife) and a TZ250 Yamaha.
“I finished about 18th in one race and I stopped in the other with a slipping clutch. Then when I got back to my van I found somebody had nicked my money!
“I only had £90 but Mervyn Whyte gave me £100 to get me home.”
McGuinness has come a long way since those early days and certainly can’t be ruled out for a win this week, even though he will have one eye on next month’s TT.