GARY Johnson looks on course hit the ground running at this month’s North West 200 after beating Lee Williams to all three GP1 wins at Snetterton this weekend.
The RAF Regular and Reserves rider was out testing with the Lee Hardy Racing squad ahead of their international roads effort, which is set to kick off in less than a fortnight on the north coast.
After pipping Team Willo Racing’s Williams to pole in a wet qualifying session early Saturday, Johnson took off a the front as he led the 2017 champ away from the line as the lights went out for race one.
But after snatching the lead on lap two, Williams looked to be controlling the race at the front before brake problems hit, which gave Johnson an opening as he laid down a 1:11.890 and powered to the flag with eight seconds to spare.
While Luke Hopkins crossed the line third, K&A Racing’s Zac Oultram took the Sportsman win in fourth ahead of Adam Reavill and Joe Holdsworth.
In even wetter conditions on Sunday, Johnson lined up on pole for race two and immediately opened up a two-second gap at the start.
But a few laps in, he was under attack from a charging Reavill as the Sportsman hit the front before a big crash at the first bend took him out of contention, leaving Johnson to retake the lead and cruise to another victory over Williams while Rory Parker took third. Reigning Stocktwin champ Stephen Taylor bagged fifth overall and the Sportsman win.
Johnson made it three from three in the final race of the weekend as he scorched to a 1:10.710, less than a second off the lap record, to beat Williams and Parker to the line once again as the track finally dried out. Back in sixth, Lee McLaughlin salvaged his weekend after a big crash on Saturday with the final Sportsman win.
While Williams continued his hunt to regain the title with his three second places, Johnson admitted the weekend of testing put he and the Lee Hardy crew in good standing for the big roads opener in less than two weeks’ time.
“We were trying lots of different things this weekend to get ready for the North West 200,” Johnson said. “It’s been really difficult with the changing weather this weekend, but I think we’ve made the most of it just messing around with settings.
“I’m feeling good heading to the North West, this is the most bike time I’ve had leading up to the roads season for a fair few years now, so it all bodes well. Fingers crossed I can go out for first practice and be right where I want to be up towards the sharp end.”
*Images: Ian Boldy