Belfast Telegraph

North West 200: Guy Martin should question himself, not the track, says Phillip McCallen

Lack of judgment: Guy Martin was caught on live TV complaining about the North West 200 track
Lack of judgment: Guy Martin was caught on live TV complaining about the North West 200 track

By Phillip McCallen

Guy Martin knows as well as anyone the potential pitfalls of live television and an open microphone.

He has become more famous for his TV and film career than his racing and that, I believe, is a big part of the problem with Guy that we saw manifested in jaw-dropping fashion here yesterday.

The very fact that he is vastly experienced in front of a TV camera made his outburst - make that a rant - to my BBC colleague Stephen Watson all the more astonishing as he dismounted after a disappointing Supersport practice performance.

I was left questioning much more than Guy's judgment. It made for great TV and got people talking but it was ill-advised and told us more about Guy than he maybe wanted us to know.

I couldn't believe my ears as he sounded off about the track, repeating himself over and over. The North West was boring, boring, boring. The chicanes were destroying the track... on and on he went.

Did he have a point? I have a lot of time for Guy; he is one of the characters who attracts people to racing and his TV appearances have certainly raised the profile of the sport - people instantly warm to his cheerful eccentricity.

But in this instance he was wrong on every level with his timing, his assertions and even the very fact that he is here at all.

I can understand his fury. He's been out there giving everything he has in search of that elusive first North West win and is still 10 seconds off the pace. He needed to ask himself why that was instead of blaming the track.

A track is a track. It presents the same challenge to everyone and, in any case, there are no chicanes at the TT and he hasn't won there either.

All riders get frustrated - goodness knows, I had my moments. Anyone who worked with me will know I understand what it's like to kick off when things don't go the way you want.

But the place for a rant is in private, within the team. Guy ought to have gone straight in to work out how to find those 10 seconds instead of sounding off on live TV.

Guy did the event and himself a great disservice. The organisers were not pleased but rather than escalate the incident, they'll have had a quiet word with Guy's Tyco team principals to remind him of his responsibilities.

I doubt we will see him back at the North West but not directly as a result of his outburst.

What sparked him off? I believe what we saw here yesterday was Guy raging against the dying of the light in terms of his racing powers.

I would not question for one minute his passion for the sport. I am sure that still burns brightly but you do have to wonder about his hunger.

He clearly doesn't need the money with all his TV work and the offers that keep flowing in but here he is competing against riders all desperate to earn a crust. This is their livelihood, the size of their pay packets depends on results and they are going to fight tooth and nail for wins.

I've been in that position and it certainly gives you an edge that Guy has maybe lost.

He talked in this paper yesterday of rethinking his decision earlier this year to retire at the end of this season.

If yesterday was an example of his frame of mind, he should indeed think again - and pack the whole thing in now.

Belfast Telegraph


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