Lee Johnston: NI rider doing 'everything possible' to race again

Motorcycle racer Lee Johnston says he hopes to be testing a bike in "weeks, not months" but is unsure if his body will allow him to return to competing.

Johnston, 34, crashed in North West 200 practice in May and was airlifted to hospital, where he had a nine-hour operation on numerous injuries.

He said his shoulder injury caused the biggest question over a return.

"If my body lets me, I want to ride a motorbike again," Northern Ireland's Johnston said on his YouTube page.

"I want to try and get my body right and we're doing absolutely everything possible for that."

Isle of Man TT winner Johnston crashed during a Supersport qualifying session at the North West 200 and was treated at the scene before being transported to Portstewart by ambulance and then airlifted from the circuit to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Johnston had received a blood transfusion on the golf course beside the circuit before being transferred to hospital, where he spent three days on a ventilator.

He suffered a broken femur, shoulder, fractured foot and face, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding.

"I do want to have a go at racing again," Johnston said on his vlog.

"That's the plan in my head, but obviously that is going to take a little bit more time to figure out.

"My situation right now is that most of my body has healed. My foot is still a little bit sore but my femur is good, really good. I've been doing some cycling and stuff on that.

"The biggest problem, which we knew from the start was going to be my shoulder, with the lack of movement, the strength in it and the position.

"The shoulder is such a complex joint and it really important for riding a motorbike."

'I want to be competitive'

Johnston, who also competes in the British Supersport Championship, said sitting on the sidelines has "made me realise how much I miss riding my motorbike".

"I've another few weeks to wait to see what level we can get to and then we are going to try and test a bike, which is something I am so excited about.

"That's something I am excited and nervous about. Not about how I'm going to feel but if I'm going to be fit to do it.

"That's the main test. You can do all the gym and physio and stuff you want, but until you ride a motorbike you can't tell.

"I'm getting physio four times a week, pretty much every other day. It's really hard at the minute as we're in the savage stage of trying to make things move.

"I've another few weeks of that and then we are going to go and test a bike."

Johnston is also team manager for Ashcourt Racing, who he competes for both in the British championship and international road races.

He says the team will continue regardless of whether he can race again, but he "dearly hopes" he will be one of the riders.

"Hopefully I am going to be one of those riders [for 2024], but I'm also realistic. If I'm not fit to do the job then I've go no interest in doing the job.

"I want to come back and be competitive.

"It's something that has been hard to come to terms with so I'm still sitting on the fence a little bit.

"I'm not quite ready to stop doing something that I love and have loved for such a long time."