Belfast Telegraph

End of the road for Guy Martin as he skips North West 200 and Isle of Man TT

By Paul Lindsay

It's the news that event organisers and fans alike have been dreading, but it's now official - big-name rider Guy Martin will not race at this year's Vauxhall North West 200 or Isle of Man TT, with the announcement indicating his first steps towards retirement.

Martin will instead compete in an endurance mountain bike race called the Tour Divide, a gruelling event between Canada and New Mexico, which clashes with the TT in June.

The 34-year-old's commitment means he will also miss the NW200 in May, though that won't come as a shock to race organiser Mervyn Whyte. At last year's North West, Martin stirred up controversy by saying the course "bored" him before apologising to Whyte for the comment.

Truck mechanic turned TV presenter Martin said he was "not done with motorbikes" but revealed he thought long and hard about his future while in the Royal Victoria hospital after suffering broken bones and fractured ribs while riding at last year's Ulster Grand Prix.

In an open to interpretation statement issued yesterday on social media, Lincolnshire racer Martin said: "Plenty of folk have been asking what I'm up to this year. I fancy a change of scenery. I've been racing the TT for 11 years.

"All I've really done since I was 18, except the trucks, is race motorbikes and my brain needs something else. Every year's the same - testing, racing, then start again. It brought it home to me when I was lying in hospital after the Ulster Grand Prix crash.

"I've been on about the Tour Divide, the toughest pushbike race in the world, for three years now and I thought I'll blink and next thing I'll be 45, so I'm going to give it a go this year.

"I like breaking myself mentally and the Tour Divide will be tough, but it's the same time as the TT, so that's forced me to make a choice.

"I'm not done with motorbikes. I'm attempting the Wall of Death record in the spring and having a go at the land speed record in the summer and if I do race on the roads it will be with TAS," he said of the Moneymore-based team owned and run by father and son pairing, Hector and Philip Neill.

"After the Tour Divide I might never want to see a pushbike again or never want to go road racing again, I don't know.

"But I do know Bruce Anstey and John McGuinness are still racing the TT, and they've got a few years on me, so maybe I'll come back next year.

"Or maybe I'll find something else interesting to do. I've got more interests than just motorbikes and I just think, 'let's have them'. Thanks very much as ever for the support."

Martin is undoubtedly the most famous competitor never to have won a race at the Isle of Man TT, and in the modern era has opened the world of road racing up to a diverse global audience.

But since being thrust into the media spotlight through his television work, Martin has arguably become bigger and possibly too hot to handle for the events that covet his participation.

Ironically, the maverick engineering genius completed his fastest ever lap of the TT circuit last June following a move to BMW power with local team TAS Racing.

His 132.398mph lap in the Senior TT was just outside the outright lap record, but could it be his last competitive effort on Mona's Isle?

Only one man can answer that question and that's Martin himself. This year's Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod in August will tell the tale. It's a circuit that, up until that hugely publicised crash last year, has been very good to the Tyco BMW ace.

Before then he has 2,745 miles of extreme mountain bike trails to prepare for between Canada and New Mexico in the Tour Divide on June 11.

If and when he gets that out of his system, who knows?

Belfast Telegraph

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