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He's just the Guy to light up the road race scene

By Paul Lindsay

Mysterious, enigmatic and garrulous are three adjectives that have been used to describe global television celebrity and road racing enigma Guy Martin who, much to the delight of his huge fan base, has decided to make a return to pure road racing this year with Honda Racing.

The Grimsby truck mechanic, who openly admits to suffering from Asperger Syndrome, now finds the world at his feet, since first taking to pure road racing over a decade ago, which came about after a brief flirtation with the British Championship paddock came to a swift conclusion - having slammed the lid of a laptop closed after a disagreement with a series organiser.

Martin's honest and unfiltered tongue had him lambaste the North West 200 circuit layout as boring but, in his defence, he later apologised, and the no nonsense Lincolnshire ace refers to the regulars in the high profile BSB paddock as the hair gel and sunglasses brigade.

He even lost his love for the Isle of Man TT for a brief period because of intense PR requirements, but he's happy to admit he struggles with celebrity status.

And now with Honda Racing he's back to what he does best - making motorcycles go fast between the hedges and drawing fans from the four corners of the globe like a neodymium magnet, where the biggest winners are road racing fans and the economy in the surrounding areas that glow white hot with incandescent heat, which Martin creates autonomously when he rolls into town.

Money, he says, has never been his motivator and he certainly never intended to become a global TV phenomenon.

It's strongly rumoured that for his first project on the small screen, he thought of a number and doubled it, as he wasn't keen on becoming a stereotypical broadcaster. But the production company said yes and the rest as they say is history!

He's taken on the world's toughest mountain bike challenge, ridden the biggest wall of death ever built, suffered the indignity of dealing with major Delhi Belly during a trip to India, among a plethora of other off-beat television projects that have afforded him unconfirmed millionaire status.

Yet he still keeps his feet firmly on the ground, and has admitted to changing scripts to suit his native tongue and off-the-wall ideologies to keep his originality. Or as he once put it: "I do what I want and it's great, but some day they will get bored of me and I'll be back to working on trucks."

Not forgetting he now owns his local pub, The Marrowbone & Cleaver, in his home village of Kirmington, or 'Kirmo' as he affectionately refers to it, which has great memories from his youth, as he explained in one of his books.

"For me serious boozing took place in a very small window of my youth. It started at 15 and ended a year or so later," he said.

So, with his ever growing wealth and new business acquisitions, why return to the dangers of road racing - where he has cheated death on numerous occasions, none more so than his 2010 fireball at the Isle of Man TT and his back-breaking crash at the 2015 Ulster Grand Prix?

"Not everyone is motivated by money," he once told me, and he also stated in his recent publication 'Worms to Catch' that he was glad he'd finally given up racing modern machinery. But he's back!

So, what's the motivation I asked?

"Do I need one?" he volleyed back at me when the bombshell landed that he would return to racing - not with Hector Neill's TAS Racing team for a ninth year, but for Honda Racing, brokered by former racer and long-time Honda Racing boss in the UK, Neil Tuxworth.

"I turned the job down at first and I went to China and said I'd think about it; that was late October 2016 and I had no regrets. Then I came back and bumped into Neil Tuxworth and I really like the man.

"He'd been round to ours for tea a few times and he didn't put any pressure on and said even if I didn't race, I could still have a ride on the Honda Six," said Martin, whose eyes lit up like a pinball machine when he was told he could ride Honda's iconic six-cylinder 250cc machine that was built in 1966 and ridden to the world title that same year by the legendary Mike Hailwood.

"I thought about it for a while and what Tuxworth said about me being able to do what I want. I was biking home one night on the push bike and was thinking how much I missed racing and just made the decision - I'm going to do that," he said.

Straight away without having his commitment questioned, he retorted: "I do have unfinished business and I want to win a TT, I really do.

"I also want to go back to the Southern 100."

Martin has been a prolific winner at both the Southern 100 and Ulster Grand Prix over the years, but a TT win, despite 15 podiums, has eluded him for one reason or another.

For his worldwide army of fans, just having Martin back on the start line on Mona's Isle will be enough, but the prospect of having to topple current TT kings Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson will be a big ask.

With his television schedule not having let up since his opening foray in front of the camera back in 2011 with 'The Boat that Guy Built', I find it hard not to see a programme being scheduled for his TT comeback.

But thankfully for local fans we will get to see him in action first at next month's Tandragee and Cookstown 100 Road Races.

In the words of one of his favourite authors, George Orwell, "Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible".

Guy will certainly hope that he is the man doing the winning when it matters, come June at the Isle of Man TT.

But win or lose, this off-the-wall global icon will carry on making headlines.

Belfast Telegraph

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