Northern Ireland’s Lee Johnston has parted company from the Jackson Racing team days before practice for the Isle of Man TT gets underway.
Johnston was due to compete in the Superbike and Supersport classes for the Preston-based team on Honda machinery around the Mountain Course, where practice is scheduled to commence on Saturday evening.
The Maguiresbridge man had been set to ride a new Fireblade SP2 in the Superstock class at the international meetings this season in the Jackson colours, but a shortage of available machines meant Johnston reverted to his former East Coast Racing BMW at the North West 200, with permission from the Jackson team.
Team boss Alan Jackson, who runs the outfit with his brother Andy, confirmed to the News Letter: “Jackson Racing and Lee Johnston have parted company. It is sad and unfortunate with the TT so close.”
On Wednesday morning, the team issued a statement saying they are talking to another rider and 'are hopeful we can at least have two Supersport machines on the grid'.
The statement added: 'The Superbike will be prepared ready with the view that if the right rider comes along then we will run it'.
Johnston, who is based in England, claimed two podium finishes at the North West, earning a fine runner-up result behind 21-time winner Alastair Seeley in the second Superstock race and third place in the first Superbike race.
He also sealed fifth in the Supersport class and fourth in the opening Superstock race.
The 27-year-old will ride for Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki team in the Lightweight race at the TT in a four-man line-up that includes Josh Brookes, Peter Hickman and Danny Webb.
Johnston is expected to continue riding the East Coast BMW in the 1000cc races at the TT and may also have the chance to ride a 600cc Honda for Padgett's Racing.
Meanwhile, Jackson Racing yesterday announced that Australian rider Brookes had taken over John McGuinness’s seat in the team to compete in both TT Supersport races.
The Morecambe man has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after sustaining injuries during a crash in Superbike practice at the North West 200, including a badly broken right leg.
British Superbike frontrunner Brookes returns to the TT this year as a factory Norton rider, bolstering the ranks for the British team along with fellow countryman David Johnson in the RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior races.
The Bringelly man will also make his debut in the Bennetts Lightweight race, when he will ride a Kawasaki for Ulsterman Farquhar.
In other TT news announced yesterday, Flying Kiwi Bruce Anstey has been drafted in as a replacement for McGuinness in the Japanese Mugen team.
Anstey will team up with Guy Martin for the TT Zero race on Wednesday, June 4.