Nathan Harrison has landed a dream ride alongside his boyhood hero John McGuinness in the Honda Racing UK team this year.
The 24-year-old from Onchan, who impressed in his TT debut last June, will have factory-backed machines for the Superbike and Senior races, along with a ‘street legal’ Fireblade for the Superstock events.
Harrison will also campaign a 600cc Honda in the two Supersport races but it has yet to be confirmed whose colours he will be riding under for those events.
‘To ride alongside John in the Honda Racing UK team has always been a dream of mine,’ said Nathan. ‘Coming from a Manx family that has always been involved in motorcycle racing, the TT has always been in my blood.
‘Watching the TT as a child with John and Honda dominating, it made me want to be the next John McGuinness and that was my full focus. I can’t thank Havier [Beltran] and Honda Racing UK enough for the opportunity.
‘It’s only my second ever TT, so to be going into it on a great bike, with the best team-mate I could ask for, will be an incredible experience. Hopefully, the long-term plan of where John can teach me things I may not know, learning from the team with the experience they have on the Fireblade and then my own progression, we can make small steps on last year to hopefully get me to that top step in the years to come.
In an interview last week he added: ‘I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my mum and dad (Jane and Dean) for all their support and sacrifice over the years; my sponsors and supporters for sticking by me and helping me to get to this position where I have been given the fantastic opportunity.’
‘We kept a close eye on Nathan’s progress last year and we were impressed with his riding and his attitude throughout,’ said John, who is looking forward to riding with the young Manxman.
‘It will remind me of 2000 when I rode alongside Joey Dunlop. He was very much my hero growing up and I remember being on the podium alongside him feeling somewhat awestruck.’
The ‘Morecambe Missile’ has amassed 16 of his 23 total TT wins on Honda machinery, the most successful manufacturer to have raced at the TT.
The pair will be heading off to Spain in a few weeks time for pre-season testing and will take in the early rounds of the British Superstock Championship season to get up to speed for the roads, with the first major test being the North West 200 in early May.
‘The North-West is a must to get up to speed for the TT,’ added McGuinness, who suffered a near career-ending crash at the Coleraine triangle in 2017.
He missed the next two TTs as a result, and had a disappointing return on a less-than-competitive Norton in 2019.
The pandemic then put a stop to everyone’s racing, but John was anxious not to go out on a low and was delighted when Honda gave him a chance to return to their camp again last year.
‘Riding a Fireblade again at the TT last year was something special so it only felt right to continue for another year,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t feel more at home with the Honda team so I need to say a massive thank you to Harv Beltran and Neil Fletcher.
‘Celebrating 100 TT starts with the team and riding with that one-off livery and all of the history that we have was really something else. We also managed to crack the top five last year on the superbike, which was great, but I’m hungry for more. I just want to get started now and go racing again.’