JOHN McGuinness and his Honda TT Legends team were left to reflect on what might have been at the opening round of the 2012 World Endurance Championship as they finished in ninth place.
Competing at the French Magny Cours circuit, John and team-mates Cameron Donald and Simon Andrews were looking good for a top six finish in the 24-hour race but a crash in the final third dropped them down the order and they had to settle for the aforementioned ninth place, the sixth highest EWC bike.
Riding with Donald, Andrews and Gary Johnson, John posted a time of 1m43.213s during his final 30-minute qualifying session, which saw overcast conditions at the French circuit.
It was Andrews who posted the fastest lap for the team but, being the fourth rider, his times didn’t count towards the final qualifying time.
So, when the combined fastest laps of John, Donald and Johnson were added, the team started the race from 11th on the grid although Andrews replaced Johnson for the punishing race.
A superb start by the team saw them jump up to fifth place and they stayed in this position until an unscheduled stop by Andrews saw him pit to have a quickshifter problem resolved.
Although the team dropped back to sixth they were soon back out on track but on Sunday morning the rain returned and Donald was caught out, crashing out at 150mph.
He managed to push the damaged Honda back to the pits and 20 minutes later they were back in the race, eventually ending the gruelling 24-hours in ninth place for 19 valuable points.
Speaking afterwards, John said; “After spending so long in the top six we’re all slightly disappointed to have ended up in ninth but it’s a punishing event and anything can happen to anyone at any time, it was just our turn to suffer misfortune this time around.
“We had a few problems during practice and so were a little disappointed to have only qualified in 11th place but the start position wasn’t that crucial when you think the race is 24-hours long and we all put in some good stints in the early stages to get ourselves inside the top six.
“We were able to consolidate our position despite the harsh weather conditions, which saw rain and extremely cold temperatures make riding the bike tough going.
“This type of racing can bite you at any time though and it was Cameron’s bad luck to be out on the bike when the rain fell and down he went.
“Luckily he was okay and he put in a great effort to bring the bike back to the pits and although we dropped back a few places, the boys in the pits did a superb job getting us back out on track and we were able to bag ourselves some valuable points.”
John’s next outing will be at Oulton Park on May 5-7 where he’ll be back on the Padgetts Honda for the Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship.