Johnston forced to retire from TT with eye problem
Lee Johnston claimed a second-place finish at the Isle of Man TT but left ‘devastated’ after having to withdraw from the final two races of the week with an eye problem which affected his vision.
The Maguiresbridge rider took a surprise second place in the Supertwin race to give Aprilia its best TT result and Lee his sixth TT podium. Lee had also secured a fourth-place finish in the first Supersport race earlier in the week, but was unable to make his count as he retired from both Supersport and Senior TT.
“Five miles later I knew I couldn’t see properly,” Lee admitted to Radio TT after his retirement from the second Supersport race of the week. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking to be honest. You put in all that effort and feel like you’ve let people down by not doing your job, so that’s hard to swallow.
“The guys all made me promise before I went out that if it wasn’t better, I should come in. We are quite close in this team and this is the rule that has been established. I am absolutely devastated to be honest.
” It’s painful. It’s extremely frustrating. I’m going to go back to eye specialists and see if we can figure it out as soon as possible and hopefully get it under control.
“We didn’t come here to finish fifth or sixth, and I don’t say that arrogantly, but we were trying to be on the podium and it was impossible from what I could see. And you don’t appreciate it. I had two or three little scares. Nothing major but enough to say ‘What am I trying to do here?’ It just wasn’t working.
Lee had narrowly missed out on a podium finish in the first Supersport race, but made up for it in Wednesday’s Supertwin event, taking second place behind runaway winner Peter Hickman.
Johnston had qualified in fourth place and it looked like he would struggle to improve on that starting position as Hickman, Michael Dunlop and Jamie Coward raced clear. With Johnston’s bike unable to match the top speed of his rivals, he appeared to be content with another fourth place, but retirements from Dunlop and Coward lifted him to second place on the podium.
Johnston acknowledged ahead of TT week that a win for his Ashcourt Racing team was more likely to come in the Supersport class and he entered Thursday’s race as one of the favourites, but his eye problems quickly became obvious.
By the end of the first lap of the two-lap race, he was back in ninth place and he chose to retire as he passed the grandstand. The condition continued to plague the Fermanagh man, and he made the shocking decision not to start the senior TT on Saturday and end his TT week prematurely.