Last week saw further recognition of Lee Johnston’s rise to the front ranks of the motorcycling.
The Maguiresbridge native received the Recognition Award at the Adelaide Irish Motorbike Awards at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast. The award marks Johnston as the most improved road racer in the country in 2014.
The award came after Johnston was ranked fourth in Road Racing Ireland magazine’s top ten Irish riders of 2014 behind Michael Dunlop, Alastair Seeley and Jonathan Rea last month.
While there’s no doubt 2014 was a year to remember for Johnston, still just 25, the man himself had higher aspirations.
“It went well, but in my own head I wanted to win a bit more and there were a few mistakes in there, so there’s plenty to build on for this year. But looking back, what I aimed for at the start of the year I pretty much did in most respects,” said Johnston.
As for the night itself, it marked a great opportunity not just to unwind, but to look ahead to the coming season.
“It was a good night, I didn’t think I was going to get anything. I was up for the main award, but I knew I wasn’t going to get that. I took a fair few jars and then all of a sudden my name was called out for the Recognition Award. It’s probably the only time of the year a few of us get to see each other, some of the lads like Jonny Rea. We’re all heading to Spain testing in the next few weeks so it was good to get together before that and see what everyone’s up to.
2015 sees Johnston moving from Honda to BMW equipment. The Fermanagh rider sees the move as a big step forward and is keen to put the machinery through its paces when he heads to Spain next week to start testing for the World Endurance season. With the bike looking good, Johnston is also happy with his own physical condition.
“I’ve got a personal trainer and a week ago I was in Spain and I did 475 mile on a bicycle in five days. I was out with a few friends who ride for a pro team in England. My cousin is a cyclist and he lives in England as well so we all went to Spain to get the training started for the year. I don’t think anyone really sees that side of motorbike racing and how fit you have to be. I’ve no injuries at the minute and my own fitness levels are good so it’s going well.”
In 2014 Johnston did well in the Ulster Grand Prix, the North-West 200 and the Isle of Man. He wants to build on that success this season.
“I don’t think you’d have enough ink in the pen to write down what I want to win this year. I want to win TT. I’ve been there two years learning now and it’s time to start getting a podium or a win. We’ve won the Classic one which shows that my track knowledge is coming on well. I’ve won at every other international and it’s no different there, it’s just down to track knowledge,” said Johnston.
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