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My Guy was worth effort and he'll prove it, says Neill

By Paul Lindsay

Published 04/06/2015

Main man: Guy Martin during Superbike practice on the Isle of Man earlier this week
Main man: Guy Martin during Superbike practice on the Isle of Man earlier this week

Famous American comedian and actor WC Fields said "never work with children or animals", but TAS Racing team manager Philip Neill obviously wasn't listening back in 2011 when he took on a more difficult task by signing enigmatic Lincolnshire racer Guy Martin.

"I'm a sucker for a challenge," said Neill, and while Martin's profile has increased through his television work and a few wins at places like Scarborough, the Southern 100 and Ulster Grand Prix, he has yet to capture the holy grail for himself and the Moneymore-based team - a coveted TT top step.

Four podiums came in that opening 2011 season for Martin and TAS Racing at the TT in the dark and gothic Relentless Suzuki livery, but since then it's been a case of ifs, buts and maybes.

In his defence, 15 career podiums to date at the TT undoubtedly prove the pedigree of the 33-year-old, but since that opening quartet in his debut year with TAS Racing, podium finishes have been scarce.

The statisticians will tell you that only two additional podiums have come from 14 TT starts, but having weighted the decision for Philip Neill and his TAS Racing team to move away from Suzuki to BMW power for 2015, can he finally take a win this week in what is being touted as his swansong on Mona's Isle?

The Tyco BMW team manager said: "I think it's clear Guy is a contender and has been for a few years, but you need that little bit of luck at the TT and everything to fall into place.

"Guy has maybe been on the wrong end of that a few times and he will not mind me saying that on a few occasions when he looked like a winner, he came across another rider who had his best day and rode the perfect race."

Last year BMW took three wins with Michael Dunlop at the TT, but the experienced Tyco BMW team manager explained that it would not add extra pressure on his team or riders at this week's TT.

"Michael has won on lots of different makes of machinery at the TT. He's a top class rider, but what we are doing at Tyco BMW is totally different," he explained.

"We've only been running the S1000RR for a short period of time and have had success in British Superbike and also at the North West 200 so I think we are doing a good job so far for BMW Motorrad."

Explaining the complexity of the TT, he added: "On a BSB weekend you get a lot of track time to perfect the set-up of your bike, but here at the TT you get maybe two laps per night to try and do the same, then if the weather is against you it's in the lap of the gods."

Speaking of the switch from Suzuki to BMW Power, Neill said: "The change opens up a huge window of potential for us at TAS Racing, but what we need from this practice week at the TT is track time. We have a lot of experience as a race team, but only with track time can you ascertain how close you are to the ideal set-up."

The challenge that the father of three talked of back in 2011, when he signed Martin, is still apparent.

"Guy is a strong-minded individual and in ways he can be difficult and is certainly different, but that's what appealed to me," he said.

"In today's corporate world his honesty is refreshing and he fits in very well with our team."

As for the retirement rumours surrounding his top rider, he said: "Honestly? No I don't think Guy will ever give up racing motorcycles.

"Whether he returns to the TT will very much depend on how he enjoys this year. If he does win one and retire, as he has intimated in the past, then I'll be happy for him and us as it will increase our tally to 16 wins - which isn't bad for a wee team from Moneymore."

Belfast Telegraph

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