Honda Motor Europe just announced its road racing squad for the 2018 season, welcoming Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston to team. The duo should be a strong lineup for Honda, and it is fairly big news to see Hutchy with Big Red for next season.
The bigger news though is that today’s announcement leaves us asking what happened to John McGuinness, the 23-time race winner at the Isle of Man TT being absent from Honda’s racing announcement.
Missing the 2017 TT because of injuries he sustained at this year’s North West 200, doubt had been cast over McPint’s road racing future.
Always chasing the high-water mark left behind by 26-time TT race winner Joey Dunlop, McGuinness has to contend with a new generation of fast racers, his age and health, and a troublesome racing package in the Honda CBR1000RR SP2.
This leaves the question, are we just marking time before we hear a retirement announcement? Or, is something else afoot?
The way we look at it, there are three possibilities for John McGuinness. First, it is possible that the Morecambe Missile could be hanging up his leathers.
At 45-years-old and with a family to think about, no one could blame McGuinness for ending one of the most dominant careers in motorcycle racing history, especially after an incredibly tough and frustrating 2017 season.
The second possibility is that McGuinness could be switching teams for 2018. Though it is hard to imagine McGuinness on any kind of bike other than a Honda, there is certainly the possibility.
This Instagram post by Paul Phillips, the Isle of Man government’s TT and Motorsport Development Manager, certainly adds some fuel to the fire, as it shows McGuinness on the Norton SG6 race bike:
— Paul Phillips (@PaulPhillips_TT) November 26, 2017
That just looks like a bit of fun to our eyes, and we have a hard time believing that Honda would announce a replacement for McGuinness in the team, without first letting the iconic road racer announce his retirement first.
So, that brings us to the only foreseeable third option. As such, it is entirely possible that the 2018 season would see John McGuinness with a reduced racing schedule that focused solely on the Isle of Man TT.
It is not a stretch to think that Honda could support a third rider during the TT fortnight, with McGuinness maybe attending an earlier round in the year to knock off the cobwebs and test the Honda Fireblade he will be racing.
This is of course purely our own speculation, but surely whatever McGuinness decides and announces will mean big news for road racing fans, and the Isle of Man TT itself. Stay tuned.
Source: Honda Motor Europe