‘Why I’ve quit road rac­ing’ ‘Blade was a pig to ride’ ‘They say I’ve lost it, I don’t give a f**k!’

MCN - - Front Page - By Matt Wildee SE­NIOR ED­I­TOR @MCNNews mo­tor­cy­cle­news

It’s been a tough year for Guy Martin, John McGuin­ness and any­one else in­volved in the Honda TT project. Back in Fe­bru­ary, it looked like the Big H had the dream line-up with an up­dated Fire­blade rid­den by two top rid­ers. But that dream turned into a night­mare with bike prob­lems, a ca­reer-threat­en­ing crash for McGuin­ness at the NW200 and Guy rac­ing alone at the TT. A crash in the Su­per­bike race and a with­drawal from the Se­nior TT wasn’t what any­one was look­ing for. Since then it’s all gone more than a lit­tle bit quiet. The ques­tion was what would hap­pen next? No-one knew. Guy didn’t race at the South­ern 100 but was us­ing the Moto Time At­tack event at Cad­well last week as a public test ses­sion. We tracked him down, and away from the au­to­graph-hunters, in the refuge of his tran­sit, he was any­thing but quiet…

Guyon why he de­cided to race again

“Neil Tux­worth came around for his tea in Oc­to­ber say­ing, ‘Why don’t you ride the Honda?’ He came two or three times and I liked the fact that he came around to my house. I like him as a bloke – he’s a dog man. He said, ‘Do the meet­ings you want, do it how you want.’ I said, ‘Get me Mar­quez’s bike and I’ll be there like a shot.’ And he went off and ac­tu­ally asked. He said, ‘I can’t get Mar­quez’s bike, but I can get you a ride on it. But you can’t race it at the TT as Honda don’t sell the bike to the public. But you can do all this with the Fire­blade.’ “I re­ally had a think about it but I had a film­ing job – three weeks in China – and I couldn’t give him the an­swer, so I said, ‘Thanks, re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it but I can’t say yes, so it’s a no.’ “Then I got back from China and came to a clas­sic event on my road bike with old rac­ers. Tux­worth was there and he said those bikes were still there for me. I was bik­ing home from work the next day and I thought, ‘F**k it! I’ll go bike rac­ing!’ For no rea­son – like a mo­ment of mad­ness. But I’ve still no re­grets about do­ing it.”

Guyon the ter­ri­ble TT

“I’ve been rac­ing there long enough, and I’ve al­ways ap­plied the same method to the TT: for the first few nights of prac­tice, don’t make any changes be­cause it’s all about cir­cuit knowl­edge and get­ting your eye in. You’re not car­ry­ing the mo­men­tum and it means you load the tyres and suspension more as you’re gassing it harder and ac­cel­er­at­ing from a lower speed. Once you get faster there is less for­ward and back tran­si­tion on the bike as ev­ery­thing flows more. I said to them the first cou­ple of days, ‘Don’t make any changes.’ But I could tell what the prob­lem was – it was the en­gine. The way it de­liv­ers the power – right at the top. [The team first tried a Cos­worth-tuned en­gine, be­fore ex­per­i­ment­ing with Su­per­stock and BSB-spec mo­tors – MCN.] “It still wasn’t fast and it was a pig to ride – the way that the power came in. It was like hav­ing an Al­sa­tian on a lead and it’s rip­ping your arm out. It feels like the most an­gry thing in the world, but then you let it go and it just licks you to death.”

Guyon the quest for speed

“I said to the team, ‘What­ever we do, once we get those prob­lems out of the way, the bike’s not quick enough – it didn’t have the speed.’ Af­ter the NW200, I was talk­ing to en­gine tuner Jack Frost. Our su­per­bike does 220bhp on a proper dyno, but we were strug­gling to do 190mph with it. The data from the team said that I’m rolling off here and rolling off there, but that’s ‘I know the truth. Peo­ple say that I’ve lost it. I couldn’t give a f**k’ what you do, even at the NW200 – noone is to the stop, you’re just man­ag­ing the bike. Jack said that with those sort of num­bers we should be do­ing 210mph. “He said, ‘You’ve got some kind of aero prob­lem’ and sug­gested get­ting the bike to the Elv­ing­ton top speed tri­als. So straight off the phone to him, straight on the phone to [team man­ager] Johnny Twel­ve­trees and I said, ‘We’ve got to test it where there is nowhere to hide.’ We took the bike and started off at 187mph, then mucked about and mucked about and we got it to 192mph. “My tech­ni­cian Roger Smith said that Hutchy’s bike only did 196mph at the TT. True, but if the Blade can’t do it at Elv­ing­ton, it’s never go­ing to do it at the TT. There are lots of places at the TT where it feels like the front is go­ing to wash, like the wind is get­ting un­der the bike. It’s the strangest sen­sa­tion.”

Guyon the TT crash

“With the prob­lems with the Su­per­bike en­gine we put the Su­per­stock one in for the Su­per­bike TT. I did one lap of prac­tice and jumped out of gear a cou­ple of times but I thought it was just me get­ting used to it. Then in the race it jumped out of gear go­ing into Do­rans Bend. That was a crash! I was lucky, lucky, lucky! I jumped off the bike – no, I was chucked off the bike, had to run across the road. I got back to the bike and was shout­ing and scream­ing, call­ing it all the names un­der the sun.”

Guyon han­dling self-doubt

“I know the truth. Peo­ple say, ‘You’ve lost it.’ I couldn’t give a f**k. The Tour Di­vide changed me. Spend­ing all that time by my­self, just rid­ing and rid­ing gave me time to think, and I just thought I should have packed in rac­ing five years ago. You get into a rou­tine like Ground­hog Day, test­ing, pre­par­ing for the sea­son, then rac­ing. The next thing you’re do­ing it all over again. “I thought I’d do the Tour Di­vide

af­ter the crash at the Ul­ster. I was so close to be­ing paral­ysed or killed that I thought, ‘F**k it, I’ll do the moun­tain bike race,’ and I put my­self through the mill to get ready. When I got to the end of it I thought I’d never doubt my­self again. It changed me. Be­fore, all the way though my life, I’ve doubted my re­solve. I’ve al­ways felt I’ve been the weak link, that I’m not good enough. And then I’ll go out and have a cou­ple of good re­sults, ev­ery­thing goes OK and then I’m OK, too. “So, be­fore the first TT race I ex­plained all of this to the team and I said, ‘We’ve gone through all the prob­lems, noth­ing’s go­ing right and I’m start­ing to doubt my­self. I know that ev­ery­thing needs to be right for us to win and we need to know that things aren’t right and that we need to de­velop, learn and move on.’ I said we aren’t go­ing out here to win and we need to know that. Don’t try blam­ing me. Roger, our tech­ni­cian, he’s a f**king great bloke, but he’s al­ways on the com­puter say­ing I’m not hold­ing it flat here or there and putting the blame on me. It’s true, I’m not, but there’s more to the story than just data.”

Guyon fix­ing the Fire­blade

“They’re mak­ing head­way in Bri­tish Su­per­bikes. I think a lot of that is the rid­ers adapt­ing their style to make the most of the bike. I’ve not had enough time on the bike and not rid­den with the electrics enough. The big­gest is­sue is the throt­tle clos­ing. It’s not di­rect enough. Some­times you want to close the throt­tle to get some weight on the front wheel to help it turn and it’s not re­spon­sive enough. The bot­tom line is, it’s not quick enough for the roads at the mo­ment but on the short cir­cuit that doesn’t af­fect it. Very rarely on a short cir­cuit does a BSB bike go above 170mph.”

Guyon fin­ish­ing in­ter­na­tional road rac­ing

“I think I’m done. Do­ing things like this Cad­well test is just con­firm­ing that. I haven’t said it out loud – just to you. I’m still go­ing to race my clas­sic, I’m still go­ing to do Time At­tack on the Martek, if they’ll bend the rules and al­low tur­bos. “Why am I do­ing it? What have I got left to prove? There are old rid­ers, there are bold rid­ers, but there aren’t enough old, bold rid­ers. John McGuin­ness is an old, bold rider, but only just. “Peo­ple say, ‘You haven’t won a TT,’

‘I said we aren’t go­ing out here to win and we all need to know that. Don’t try blam­ing me’ GUY MARTIN ‘Af­ter rid­ing in the Tour Di­vide I thought I’d never doubt my­self again’

but it’s only a mo­tor­bike race. Peo­ple say, ‘You’re only say­ing that be­cause you haven’t won one,’ but I’m not both­ered. I just like rid­ing bikes. “Rid­ing for Honda is great, but I don’t need to do it. It’s not my job, it’s never been my job and I’m not en­joy­ing it. Rac­ing is get­ting a bit cor­po­rate, but I un­der­stand it’s got to sur­vive, evolve.”

Guyon go­ing back to Ul­ster

“Is this the end? Yeah. I don’t want to get to 40 and think I’m not as quick as I used to be. Go­ing back to the Ul­ster GP would be to do right by the team. But that’s not the right rea­son. I know I don’t want to go back. “I don’t use rac­ing as a mea­sure of suc­cess. I made my mind up, I love rac­ing bikes but I love build­ing them more. I only started rac­ing be­cause I crashed my 50cc road bike af­ter mak­ing it go faster and faster and I thought I needed to do a bit of rac­ing be­fore I did my­self in. To start off, I didn’t care where I fin­ished, in those first few years I liked build­ing bikes more than rac­ing them. Maybe now I still do.”

Guyon the fu­ture

“I still like rid­ing. All my en­ergy will be put into my clas­sic – and I’m go­ing back to Pikes Peak, too. The plan is to do Time At­tack with it at the back end of next year, then in 2019 head to Pikes Peak. I’ll put my en­ergy into that. “Have I grown out of rac­ing? I’ve done OK. When I was in the podium press conference for the elec­tric TT this year I couldn’t be­lieve I’ve had 17 TT podi­ums. I’ve won about 15 Ul­ster GPs and four South­ern 100s, three of them con­sec­u­tive – only Joey’s done that – plus lots of con­sec­u­tive Scar­bor­ough Gold Cups. I don’t know the ex­act fig­ures as they’re not that im­por­tant to me. They haven’t made me a bet­ter per­son. I haven’t cured cancer.”

Guy’s last ride of the Honda was at Cad­well Park’s Time At­tack

Guy ex­plains to MCN’s man what makes him tick Guy’s Martek has been the source of joy and frus­tra­tiom

Fast group, sir? Guy needs to show his wrist­band, too...

Guy’s leathers bear the scars from his 100mph+ TT crash

Guy says techs Cal­umn and Roger are ‘bloody good blokes’

The bro­ken-down Martek was the vic­tim of an ig­ni­tion fault

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