John McPhee has said the Moto3 title is “100 percent the goal” in 2019 after it was confirmed he would join the Petronas-backed SIC [Sepang International Circuit] Honda squad in the junior category in November.

The 24-year old Scot feels it is an “honour” to join the outfit, which is expanding its presence to the MotoGP and MotoE classes next year, and believes the team will be “the final piece in the puzzle” in terms of aiding a championship challenge.

On Friday it was announced McPhee will line up alongside talented Japanese teenager Ayumu Sasaki in 2019 on a one-year deal. With the team’s structure in Moto2 and MotoGP now confirmed, the one-time grand prix race winner says “there is an opportunity” to move up should his results next year merit it.

“It’s an honour to be joining the Petronas SIC squad,” said McPhee, who will swap KTM for Honda machinery this November. “It’s a very professional team. We’ve seen that it’s been competitive for years now in the Moto3 class and I think with the extra support from Petronas next year, it can only move forward.

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“For me, the stage I’m at in my career, it’s at a crucial point. We’re at the stage where we need to fight for world championships and I believe that these guys are going to be the final piece in the puzzle to bring that together. [They are] Really exciting times ahead.

“Certainly there are a lot of experienced guys there. It’s a massive team. You look inside and they’ve got probably the most staff out of a lot of teams in the Moto3 paddock. We’re going to be looked after there. There’s no such thing as a factory Honda squad in Moto3 but we know, with their budget, these guys will have the best bike possible and the best overall package possible.

“I think all the boxes will be ticked next year. I’ve got a fast team-mate as well, which is always good. It’s one thing me being able to help him, but in Moto3 sometimes it doesn’t matter how fast you are, you need a little bit of help from your team-mate. I think both of us working together, we can really do a good job and bring good overall results to our team.”

So the world title is the goal? McPhee was unequivocal: “Definitely. With the stage I’m at now, if I wasn’t looking for the title, there would be no point in being here. That’s 100 percent the goal. I think this year we’ve shown in the last five races that if everything comes together we can be there.

“It’s not something we’ll have to work any harder to achieve. I think it’s just something in which all the boxes need to be ticked. I believe next year that could be the case. It’s a long way away but we’ll be working hard towards that.”

The SIC outfit announced Khairul Idham Pawi would be its sole challenger in the Moto2 class in 2019, even if team director Johan Stigefelt is keen to expand its presence to two bikes.

The fact a ‘ladder’ that goes from Moto3 all the way to MotoGP within the team was a “deal breaker” for McPhee, who was mulling over “quite a few offers” before the summer.

“Honestly that was kind of the deal breaker for me,” he said. “I was in a lucky position where there were quite a few offers coming up recently. Some good offers also. Overall, as far as Moto3 goes, this is one of the strongest teams there, if not the strongest.

“Moving forward there’s an opportunity there, which is always nice. There are steps right the way up to MotoGP. I’d like to hope that if I do a good job they’ll look after me in the future. That’s a long way away but that was certainly considered. Before I signed the contract that was one of the things that attracted me to this deal.”

On whether he feels his riding style will be more suited to Honda’s NSF250R than his current KTM Moto3 machine, he said, “Not necessarily. To be honest, I’m actually really enjoying the KTM. Like you said, it took a little bit of time to adapt. The KTM is a really good bike, but the Honda is maybe a little bit of an easier bike. I can’t actually say that one’s better than the other.

“They are both very different bikes. Both have their strengths and their weaknesses. OK, we’ve not managed to be on the top step with the KTM yet but it’s not far away. I certainly think next year it will be possible to win on either bike. On the Honda we know it’s strong. It’s won many, many championships in Moto3. It’s a strong package.”

 

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