Belfast Telegraph

North West 200: Guy Martin for the big occasion

By Jim Gracey

Film and TV star rider Guy Martin will race in today’s North West 200 despite the withdrawal of his official Honda team following crash accident injuries to their veteran runner John McGuinness in Thursday’s practice.

Popular Martin will compete on the locally-owned Wilson Craig Honda in the BetMcLean.com Supersport race, which opens today’s programme in a pre-arranged reunion with his first sponsor that he intends to honour.

He and the stricken McGuinness had been due to showcase the new factory Hondas for the manufacturers’ team.

But these will not now run as a direct result of the unexplained accident that has left six-time North West winner McGuinness, a 45-year-old veteran, in the Royal Victoria Hospital under treatment for a compound fracture of the lower right leg, four broken vertebrae and three broken back ribs.

McGuinness will be in plaster for up to six weeks in treatment for the vertebrae and will remain in the Royal for a week as part of his recuperation.

In a statement last night, Honda Racing said they would carry out a detailed analysis of the crash bike to try and determine the cause of the accident, hence the withdrawal from today’s Superstock and Superbike races.

North West organisers said they fully understand and accept Honda’s reasons for this action and thanked the medical team for their excellent work at the scene of the accident.

They added that everyone at today’s event, expected to attract an 80,000 crowd, will miss the presence of McGuinness and wished him a full and speedy recovery from his injuries.

The 45-year old Morecambe rider had been racing at the North West since 1994 and has been one of road racing’s greatest ambassadors, winning six times at the Triangle and 23 times at the Isle of Man TT, which he is almost certain to miss, as practice is due to start on Monday fortnight.

Martin’s appearance is a consolation for the organisers with many casual fans attracted by his on-screen fame in TV and film speed productions.

But most eyes today will be on the dramatic Superbike battles between local heroes Alastair Seeley, Glenn Irwin and Michael Dunlop.

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