Belfast Telegraph

Martin is prepared to push himself to limit at Ulster Grand Prix

By Paul Lindsay

Enigmatic TV star Guy Martin could draw a crowd even if he wasn’t racing at this week’s Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix, but with 11 career wins at the event on a plethora of machinery since his debut in 2003, it’s fair to say the Dundrod circuit rates highly on his list of favourites.

 “There are no chicanes. I don’t know, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s fast and flowing and I suppose you just click with certain places. It’s all fourth, fifth and six gear, and blindingly fast. None of this stop-start nonsense,” said Martin before an unfortunate accident last night.

Bruce Anstey won the Dundrod 150 Superbike race but Martin crashed out at Ireland’s Corner on the last of the scheduled six laps.

Martin went to hospital as a precaution though his injuries were described as “not serious” by the organisers following the high-speed incident. Martin served his apprenticeship at Dundrod doing laps after work with a former racer and colleague some 12 years ago, and while he is an advocate of the major safety changes and circuit improvements over the years, he openly admits it hasn’t affected his approach or commitment level.

“It was Liam Quinn who taught me how to ride around here when we both rode for Team Racing,” said Martin. “We used to do laps after work, but as for the lap speeds, the only reason the speeds are going up, for me, is that tyres are getting better and bikes are getting faster.”

 Explaining his theory, Martin added: “I’m certainly not pushing any harder because there’s run-off nowadays. I have always pushed hard at Dundrod and the run-off doesn’t encourage me to go any faster. I’d still push as hard as I push with or without the changes and all the run-off in the world. It’s all about knowing your limit and that shouldn’t change with more run-off.”

Martin was instrumental in tipping the balance at TAS Racing with the move from Suzuki to BMW power for 2015, and with Hector and Philip Neill’s team now the official representatives of BMW Motorrad in British Superbike and on the roads, the Lincolnshire man is unequivocal in his summing up of his switch of manufacturer.

“It was one hundred percent the right decision to make the switch to BMW and I’m sure Philip has no regrets,” Martin said while looking across at Team Manager Philip Neill, which stimulated a nod and a thumbs up.

But how does he stay motivated with so many projects in the pipeline? And even before that, there’s the uncertainty of his choice of hardware for the Supersport class. At the TT, he scored his 14th career podium on the British Championship-winning Smiths’ Triumph, changed back to a TAS Racing 600 Suzuki for Armoy and now he is back on a Triumph.

Explaining the shift in machine focus, he continued: “The plan was to buy the bike from Smiths after the TT, which took a little bit longer to sort, but they are great people.

“So we rode Hector’s little 600 at Armoy, but what I have here at the Ulster is not a Smiths’ Triumph, it’s an NTD Racing 675.” Er, what? “Nigel the Dog 675, that’s what I’ve named it,” smiled Martin, who has also named his house after his trusty pet Labrador, who he believes has been a calming influence on his daily grind.

There’s never a dull moment in the life of Martin, who despite his fame is more comfortable spending long hours in the back of the Tyco BMW race transporter cracking jokes and sharing real-life stories with his mechanics and close associates.

Last weekend he was driving two of the world’s most iconic cars in Ferrari’s FXX and a Bugatti Veyron and later this year he will endeavour to break the 100mph barrier in a televised Wall of Death attempt, not to mention a world land speed attempt, but tomorrow it’s all about the Ulster at Dundrod.

“Yeah the bike is that good it feels slow, which is perfect for me,” he said of his BMW. “No one is going to hand anything to you out here at Dundrod. You can’t rule Hutchy (Ian Hutchinson), Michael (Dunlop) or Bruce (Anstey) out and the plan is to hit the front and try and break them.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph