Northern Ireland's Lee Johnston will ride the ex-Nicky Hayden Ten Kate Honda Superbike at the international road races in 2017 after signing for Jackson Racing.

The Fermanagh man will also race Honda's all-new Fireblade SP2 in the Superstock class plus a CBR600RR Supersport machine after committing to the Preston-based outfit in an exciting deal.

The 27-year-old was left without a ride after long-time backers East Coast Racing withdrew from the sport in September.

Johnston attracted interest from several teams but has opted to sign for Jackson Racing for the new season, which is headed by former Manx Grand Prix outright lap record holder Alan Jackson jnr. He will ride the Honda Fireblade that American star Hayden rode last year in the World Superbike Championship.

"I want to be back at the front again, winning races and I think this is the bike that can help me to do that," Johnston said.

"I had plenty of offers for this year and in the end it was all of the little things coming together that sealed the deal. We are getting help from Honda but with Alan and his team I can run my own choice of kit, bring some of my own people to work on the bikes and keep my own sponsors.

"I was over in Holland last week at the Ten Kate workshop and they are super keen to be going back to the TT. Honda doesn't bring out bad bikes and if the 'stocker is on the pace then we will have a go on it, but realistically I should be winning a Supersport TT before I'm winning a Superbike race.

"I hold the lap record on a 600 at the North West and the Ulster and I've won lots of races on that bike but I haven't turned it into anything at the TT yet. I'm hungrier than ever and I just want to win more races than I did in 2016."

Last year, Johnston endured an injury-plagued season following a crash at the Spring Cup meeting at Scarborough, which thwarted his chances at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT. He fought his way back to fitness ahead of the Ulster Grand Prix but in another setback, Johnston sustained a broken collarbone after a spill during practice on his 250cc Honda.

However, he showed his potential in 2015 with an excellent victory in the Superstock race at the North West 200 and a sensational treble at the Ulster Grand Prix. Johnston also finished third in the Superstock race at the TT behind Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop in 2015 and the livewire Ulster rider is determined to return to winning ways this year.

Team boss Jackson said: "We're not fazed by the challenge and we have run top road racers like John McGuinness, James Hillier, Ian Lougher and Chris Palmer on our bikes so we're eagerly looking forward to Lee's first test on the new bikes in March. With Lee riding our bikes we think we've got a strong team with great potential and are keen to talk to potential sponsors and individuals who want to come on board."