John McGuinness got his 24th season up and running in superb style on Sunday when he took third place in the opening round of the National Superstock Championship at Brands Hatch.
Starting from the front row the Morecambe Missile took full advantage, immediately taking the lead going into the first corner.
McGuinness then extended his lead over the next ten laps with the gap to second-placed Adam Jenkinson more than two seconds at half-distance.
It would be unlucky lap 13 though as the Padgetts Honda rider suffered a major slide coming onto the start and finish straight.
It reduced his lead and the chasing pack seized their opportunity to close up and with three laps to go Jenkinson made his move on lap 21 with Filip Backland following suit a lap later.
Coming home third McGuinness was less than a second behind race winner Jenkinson in the final podium position.
John said; “What can I say, it was a brilliant race and given the fact we only put a late entry in a few days before the event, to end up third is a dream start to the year for both me and the team.
“I made the perfect start and immediately opened up a gap and a two-second advantage around the short Indy circuit is worth almost double that.
“I was able to maintain a consistent pace and my lead stayed the same but on lap 13, I got a huge slide coming on to the start and finish straight.
“My feet were on the floor, I was pushed into the tank and almost thrown over the handlebars and as I got back into my rhythm, the others saw their opportunity and reeled me in.
“Had it not been for that, I’m confident I could have held on for the win but I’m delighted to be back on the box and it’s credit to the whole team that we could pitch up and be so strong each and every time we took to the track.”
McGuinness’ participation in the event was in doubt up until a few days before the event but he wasted little time on the Padgetts Honda in the opening qualifying to top his session, despite arctic conditions.
The weather, and temperature, improved on Saturday but John was still comfortable and although he got overhauled on the timesheets by Adam Jenkinson, a time of 47.402s was good enough for second in the group and third overall in the 58-rider field.
He said: “I’ve been testing quite a lot with the Honda TT Legends team so felt good straightaway on Friday and that form carried on throughout the weekend.”