Eazi Grip

Dean Harrison and John McGuinness take podiums at the NW 200 for Honda Racing

A super second place for Dean Harrison in Superstock


In his first road racing event for the factory Honda Racing UK team, Dean Harrison fires his Superstock CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP to a second-place finish.

Thursday’s action at the Causeway Coast for the Honda Team consisted of two qualifying sessions and a pair of four lap races, the opening Briggs Equipment Superbike Race and the Amici Ristorante Superstock Race.

Utilising Superstock motorcycles in both races, Dean Harrison had set impressive lap times in qualifying to gain a front row grid slot in Superstock and an impressive fourth in the Superbike race. Teammate, John McGuinness had an equally impressive pace at the Triangle and qualified his Fireblade in seventh for the Superbike race and a sixth in Superstock.

Nathan Harrison, in his first event of the year for the Factory team and with one eye on the TT ahead, built progressively into the day of road racing action. He qualified towards the back rows of the first wave of riders and achieved a best finish of twelfth in the Superstock race gaining valuable bike time and building confidence lap by lap.

As the lights went out and the Superbike race roared into action, Dean Harrison quickly found himself in a battle for the final podium position with fellow Honda rider Michael Dunlop. Heading into Mather’s Chicane on the final lap Dean made an impressive move on the brakes stick, only to miss a gear on the exit and then lose position to both Michael and Peter Hickman too. Nonetheless he finished the opening race in a fighting fifth.

John McGuinness, preferring the shorter length four lap races, was also putting together a fast pace as he battled with James Hillier and Conor Cummins. He would go on to finish in seventh and lapped the North West 200 Triangle circuit almost as quick as he has ever gone.

With some small changes made between races to give the riders more speed, it was lights out once more for the team’s second race of the day and the first Superstock race of the event. A front row start for Dean paved the way to a breakaway battle with Davey Todd at the front of the field as John McGuinness once more found himself in the battle for a top five finish.

As the chequered flag waved, Dean crossed the line in an impressive second to score his debut podium with the team. Not far behind John McGuinness lost the last lap battle for fourth against Honda mounted Hillier to finish fifth. Although frustrated to miss out on the last lap, he remains hugely upbeat with the impressive pace that he has shown.

Dean Harrison

I am happy, very happy with the pace with the Superstock Fireblade. The bike has been going really well, Davey is riding really well and so to come here and be right there with him is great. I wanted to get on the podium for the team to say thank you, these lads have worked so hard all year in the background with all of the things that have been going on behind the scenes that people don’t see, so this is credit to them and a big thank you for all their hard work. 

The first race was a little frustrating as I really think we could’ve had another podium. I lined up a move on Michael into Mathers and then made it stick but then I missed a gear on the way out and he got me back and Hicky came through too. 

I definitely think there is more to come, this is a new bike and a new project for me so the potential at this stage is great to see and it certainly bodes well looking forward. We get to do it all again on Saturday. 

John McGuinness

I think we have done a really good job today as a team, plugging away and battling, fighting away and scrapping with some top, top road racers. We’re going as quick as ever which is great, we’ve got a Stocker, which at the end of the day is what we’ve got to work with but in the Superstock race we we’re going great, good little ding dong with Hillier. I’m so pleased for Dean, my role is changing and he’s go the baton now, but I feel part of that journey. I love to see him on the podium, and I love to see that Davey has got one now. I’ve said it before, but when the sun is shining there’s nowhere like it. It’s been great and there’s still another day of racing to do. 

Nathan Harrison

It’s been a bit of a mixed day to tell the truth. I made a bit of a mistake in the Superbike race as I was resting my foot on the gear lever which made the quick-shifter think I wanted the bike to change when I didn’t, so I pulled in. That was just a bit of a silly mistake as we learn more and more about this new package. 

Then for the second race I made the adjustment and we were able to put together a really solid ride to 12th and get the finish that I wanted. I progressed lap by lap and as the event progresses I am building my confidence and I look forward to going again on Saturday. 

Podiums apiece for Dean Harrison and John McGuinness MBE

Glorious sunshine baked the picturesque north coast for an action-packed Saturday of racing at the Briggs Equipment North West 200. Honda Racing UK competed in three of the day’s races with their Superstock specification Fireblades in the hands of Dean Harrison, John McGuinness MBE and Nathan Harrison.

Coming into the day after a busy year of domestic championship racing and fresh from his debut Honda podium achieved earlier in the event, Dean Harrison was eager to continue delivering on his enormous road racing potential with a very fast motorcycle underneath him. In all three races of the day he displayed fantastic pace and speed to be right in the podium fight on each outing. He also clocked over 203 mph through the speed trap in two of the day’s races, with his speed trap figures in the final race of the day the quickest of the field, despite racing against full Superbike spec machines.

It was in this final Superbike race, the final outing of the meeting, Dean delivered a sensational ride to finish in third place hot on the heels of Irwin and Todd in front. He also achieved a new personal best lap time as he circulated the North West Triangle Circuit quicker than he has ever done before with a frighteningly quick 4:18.392.

Meanwhile, John McGuinness MBE, national treasure and road racing royalty made an emotional return to the North West 200 podium with a sublime, albeit somewhat fortunate, ride to third place in the days sole Superstock outing. Having made a brilliant getaway at the start of the race he battled hard with Hillier to maintain fourth place throughout much of the race, as the leading trio of Dean Harrison, Hickman and Todd battled for the podium positions ahead.

Benefitting from Dean’s unfortunate retirement from the race due to a technical problem, John found himself fighting for the final podium position as both he and Hillier rapidly caught one of the races backmarkers. Opting to dive either side of the backmarker, John’s direction of choice paid off and he crossed the line in a fantastic third, and in doing so made a long-awaited return to the North West 200 podium. He crossed the line to audibly the loudest cheer of the weekend and marked his first return to the podium since 2012.

Meanwhile, quietly going about his work throughout the event and with a clear target of getting through the event in one piece, Nathan Harrison too had a successful North West 200. Two twelfth place finishes, mileage under his belt and with all of his focus on simply getting through the event in once piece, he now focuses on some rest and recovery before heading to his home event, the Isle of Man TT Races.

Honda Racing now returns to its base in Louth to prepare for the next event in its busy calendar, round three of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park next weekend.

Team Manager Havier Beltran

First and foremost, I have to say an enormous thank you to everyone in the team for their unrelenting work ethic and never give up attitude. We came into this event off the back of a very busy schedule and there is not a single team member here who has not given their all to put us in a position to fight for podiums, I am extremely proud of everyone here. Our success is built on the hard work and long hours of the guys so credit to them. 

It is fantastic to see our potential beginning to come to fruition. To achieve podiums with both Dean and John is simply fantastic. To see Dean fighting so close with a Superstock Fireblade against full blown Superbikes, I take my hat off to him, he’s hungry and he’s motivated and he is a big part of this team. As for John, what can I say? He and Honda share such a rich history and to see him back on the podium at a road race is truly brilliant.

I also need to give Nathan a mention, he’s come here and ridden a really mature few races. Focusing on building and just taking steps forward. 

Dean Harrison

It was a fast race from the start in that final Superbike race to be honest, I tried to hang on to the back of Davey and Glenn on the Stocker for as long as I could. And Honestly, I just rode as hard as I could to stick with them in case they made any mistakes. I rode as hard as I could everywhere and braked as hard as I could to try and make the difference against a Superbike. 

We’ve had a bit of a rough day in the other races and a bit of bad luck, I closed the front in the first race and had to open the throttle and then pick the bike up, and then a bit of bad luck in the next one, which was really unfortunate because I felt super fast in that one. I want to say a massive thank you to the team for working so hard all week. Little things have just been getting in the way but we have constantly moved forward and kept on working. 

I’m over the moon to put a brand new Superstock bike on the podium in a Superbike race. It’s a new bike and we are learning all the time so I look forward to getting off to Donington next week where we will learn a bit more in BSB and then on to the Isle of Man. We’ve shown that the bike is strong and we will keep moving forward and getting faster and faster. 

John McGuinness

I honestly never thought that I would stand back on a podium, so I am absolutely over the moon. This takes a lot of work, and I’ve been going about my business, putting in the hours and the miles to prepare. I get a bit of stick and some people doubt me but it’s such a motivator for me. To still be here thirty years after making my debut and fighting with these young ones is something else. I just kept pushing and pushing in the race to get on the back of James, and yes I benefited from a bit of good luck but that’s racing. James just went the wrong side of a back marker and that sort of handed it to me. I fought and fought to be there on the back of him and at the front of that next group behind the front guys. I’m so happy, I’m happy for the team, for everyone really. There is so much that goes into this and the team have stuck by me throughout, they work so so hard to prepare everything, we had a problem in the race before and they turned the bike upside down to fix it and get me out in the race so to reward them like that just makes the job that little bit sweeter. This is the icing on the cake for me.

Nathan Harrison

Under the circumstances and given the lead up to the North West with the small injury that I picked up earlier in the year I have to say that I am happy to get through the event. I’ve got down to the lap times that I was doing previously, which was a few seconds off the pace but that was understandable given where we are. I’ve got a load of bike time under my belt, I’m back road-racing and I’m building step by step. The objective was to get race finishes not lap records and we have done exactly that. I’ve now got two weeks off to carry on my physical preparations and get myself ready for the TT. 

Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2024 in News

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