British Superstock 1000 protagonist Lee Johnston is confident he is ready to challenge for international road race victories in 2013.
Johnston, who will ride a Ducati Panigale 1199R for the new Rapido Sport team this season – which has been formed following a link-up between Northern Ireland's Millsport Racing and British championship outfit Moto Rapido – shot up the ranks last year as he finished as the runner-up in the Superstock race at the North West 200.
He also made his debut at the Isle of Man TT and claimed a sensational podium finish in the Supersport class at the Ulster Grand Prix behind William Dunlop and Bruce Anstey on his first visit to Dundrod.
Johnston will also ride a 600cc Honda on the roads and has teamed up with Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki team for the Supertwin races.
The 28-year-old, from Maguiresbridge in Fermanagh but now based in Hull, told the Belfast News Letter: “The link with Moto Rapido will help with the technical side of things in the British championship and we've built up a strong link with Ducati.
“We're in the British championship to win it and James Murray isn't putting a whole lot of money into the team to mess around.
“If I could win a couple of international road races as well that would be terrific and maybe I'd be kept on for another year.
“I enjoy the roads and I have an experienced team behind me, so that has been a big help,” he added.
“I'll have a 600cc Honda this year for the internationals which has been built for me by East Coast Construction and it should be a good bike, so the rest is up to me.
“My best chance is probably in the Superstock and Supersport races at the North West and those are the ones I'll be out to win.”
In recent years Alastair Seeley has been the man to beat at the North West 200, but Johnston is bidding to put the skids on the Gearlink Kawasaki rider in 2013.
“I enjoy racing at home and it's nice to try and put on a bit of a show in front of the fans,” he said.
“We'll see if we can take a few wins away from Seeley because it's getting a bit boring with him winning all the time!”
On his deal to ride for retired roads star Farquhar in the Supertwin class, he added: “The Supertwin class is getting bigger and Ryan builds the best bikes so I want to start off with the best and give it a go.
“I weigh just 60kg so that should be a big help on the smaller bikes.”