The most successful living TT racer and one of Red Torpedo's posse of sponsored riders, John McGuinness, has signed with Bournemouth Kawasaki for 2020 to campaign the ZX-10RR Superbike and Superstock machines at the Northwest 200 and Isle of Man TT. A Supersport ride still has to be announced and whether this is with Bournemouth on a XZ-6R or another team remains to be seen.
This is the ninth year that we've worked with the twenty-three times TT legend and we're delighted for him - as is the rest of the road racing community. Since his Honda Fireblade accident at the 2017 North West 200, McGuinness has had a torrid time battling back to full health from terrible leg injuries. When he was fit to race again (TT & NW200 2019) he had a frustrating time with the poor reliability and performance of the Norton. But he'll now be back on competitive machinery - the first time since 2016. Speaking about the Kawasaki deal he said "I know the team and the bike are good enough."
The team's a highly experienced and professional set-up. As for the bike? Well, Johnny Rea seems to rate his ZX-10RR and Dean Harrison goes like the clappers on his and won last year's Senior TT. So, it should be good enough for the Morecambe man.
McGuinness is an incredibly versatile rider and during his professional career has raced dozens of different bikes from singles and 500cc V Twin 2 strokes to in-line fours and V4s. He's won TT races on R1 and R6 Yamahas, Fireblades, 400cc and 600cc Hondas, the TSR 250 Honda he won his first TT on in '99 and the 720 AMDM single win in 2000. Then there are the two Mugen Shinden electric bike wins.
This'll be the first time he'll have raced a "Green Meanie" on the Mountain Circuit but not the first time he's raced one at an international road race. In 2004, he rode a XZ-10R for Stuart Hicken's Hawk Racing team at the Ulster GP finishing in second place just a mere 0.08 seconds behind Bruce Anstey. He had never raced a Superbike on the Dundrod Circuit before - only a Supersport machine - so it was an inspired ride by McG. In his autobiography "Built for Speed" he also mentions that he was part of a three man team with Gus Scott and Johnny Barton to ride a Kawasaki ZX-10R in the Le Mans 24 hrs endurance race (c2004/05) standing in for the injured Andy Norman.
He showed that he was back to top form at last November's Macau GP qualifying in 4th place behind Hickman, Rutter and Davo Johnson on the the Paul Bird Motorsport Ducati V4. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem resulted in him not starting either of the two shortened races.
John McGuinness on the PBM Ducati V4 at Macau GP 2019
No substitute for Experience: 100th TT start
As he dons his green and black leathers on Saturday June 6 (D-Day), chucks a penny down them for good luck then edges up to the start line, John will be starting his 100th official TT and going for his 48th podium.
He's finished 82% of the races he's started and won nearly one in four (23%). That's some going. The man's experience around one of the most dangerous circuits in the world is colossal. He knows every undulation, every manhole cover, camber and braking marker. He estimates that he's clocked up a combined total of 50,000 qualifying plus race miles around the Mountain Course. Blooming' Norah. That's twice round the world - or equivalent to crossing America coast-to-coast seventeen times! And the roads on the Mountain Course are a good bit trickier than negotiating Route 66 on a motorised Parker Knoll.
"When the Going Gets Tough....the Tough Get Going" - McPint and van
Like Padgetts Racing, Bournemouth Kawasaki's a family owned business and team - the perfect set-up for McPint. In more recent years, the best and most consistent performances in International road racing have been delivered by riders signed to non factory set-ups. Think Conor Cummins and Bruce Anstey (Padgetts Racing), Dean Harrison (Silicone Racing), Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing), and Lee Johnston ((Ashcourt Racing).
Run by team principal Pete Extance, the family runs a successful Kawasaki dealership in Bournemouth with plans to open a second dealership in Hampshire. Since start-up, they've accumulated an outstanding record on both the roads (mainly the NW200 and TT) and on short circuits - in the British Superbike Championship.
They went racing at their first Isle of Man TT in 2009 with James Hillier, then campaigned the next ten TTs (2009-2019 incl) together. It speaks volumes for the professionalism of the team that a racer of Hillier's calibre stayed with them for that length of time. Hillier's TT consistency was first rate: top ten finishes in all 58 races he started (apart from two) from 2012 onwards. He achieved 14 podiums with one win (2015 Lightweight) and seven 2nd places. They've now decided amicably to go their separate ways - with Hillier moving to OMG Racing where he'll race a BMW S1000RR alongside team mate, Davo Johnson.
James Hillier bringing home the Bournemouth Kawasaki ZX-10R at the TT
Bournemouth Kawasaki has also achieved wins at the NW200 with both Hillier and Glen Irwin. Irwin lifted both Superbike races at the 2019 NW200 and Hillier won an outstanding Superstock race in very wet conditions. At one point his lead was 20 seconds but he eased off towards the end to bring the bike home. He was also voted "Man of the Meeting" with four top four finishes.
They entered the British Superbike Championship in 2010 - a year after starting out on the roads and over the course of the next ten years, became one of the leading teams on the grid. They came very close to lifting the Championship in 2017 but suffered a heartbreaking final round when Leon Haslam crashed out. But they showed their mettle the following season with Haslam returning to win the Championship. They've now decided to leave BSB to concentrate on the roads and allow them to further develop the dealership.
In addition to running McGuinness at this year's North West 200, Bournemouth Kawasaki has also signed the services of NW200 specialist - 24 times winner Alastair Seeley who'll ride in all three classes: Superbike, Superstock and Supersport.
McGuinness and "Team Green" will be keen to start testing as soon as possible and plan to head out to Spain later in the month. It's not known whether they'll enter the first two rounds of BSB (Silverstone and Oulton) to accumulate additional laps - but McGuinness will definitely be keen to to maximise bike time.
Red Torpedo wishes John and the Bournemouth Kawasaki Team a safe and successful season on the roads.
📷 Diego Mola