12 YEARS A SLAVE TO THE TT
Guy Martin said he’d only make a comeback if he could give it his all.... but will that be enough?
The Isle of Man TT’S Mountain course has been the scene of a futile 12-year battle by Guy Martin to get his hands on one of the famous Winged Mercury trophies. With 15 second or third place finishes, the 35-year-old has the dubious accolade of being the most podiumed non-winner in the event’s 109-year history.
Guy made his TT debut in 2004 and his lap of 122.10mph was the fastest ever by a newcomer at the time.
A year later he claimed his first podium with third place in the Senior. A TT frontrunner throughout the mid noughties, 2008 produced one of his closest shaves with TT glory in the Superbike TT. Holding a comfortable 10-second lead, Guy’s Hydrex Honda ground to a cruel halt with a broken crank just two laps from the finish.
In 2010 Guy had his biggest near miss, finishing second by just three seconds in the first Supersport TT to that year’s five-time winner, Ian Hutchinson. The week almost ended in disaster when the Lincolnshire man escaped relative-ly unscathed from a 150mph fireball when he crashed his Wilson Craig Honda at Ballagarey during the Senior race.
2011 saw the beginning of Guy’s association with the TAS Racing team of Hector and Philip Neill. Guy mounted another epic but unsuccessful challenge on John Mcguinness in the 2011 Superbike TT, finishing second on his Suzuki by a mere seven seconds after a six-lap, ding-dong battle. Trying to win a TT in an era when riders like John Mcguinness, Cam Donald, Bruce Anstey and Ian Hutchinson have been racing has not made life easy for Guy and now Michael Dunlop has made his task harder still. In 2012 and 2013 Guy failed to finish on the TT podium but he bounced back to claim second and third respectively in the Superbike and Senior races the fol-following year. In his last appearance on the Mountain course in 2015 Guy’s best result was a third place Supersport finish on the Smith’s Triumph but he also managed a 132.398mph lap on the Tyco BMW in the Senior TT which remains the sixth fastest Mountain course lap ever.
TT happy to have him back
Guy Martin’s return to the TT in 2017 will see the sport’s biggest star step back on to its biggest stage, a prospect that has delighted TT supremo, Paul Phillips.
“We always want all the best riders at the TT and all the best equipment so it will be good to see Guy pushing at the front again,” Phillips said.
The Lincolnshire rider’s criticisms of the TT’S commercialisation have often left him at odds with the man who initiated those changes but Phillips is full of praise for Guy’s U-turn.
“As a race fan I am a bit surprised,” he said. “But I think it shows just how much he enjoys riding his bike and racing the TT. He clearly doesn’t need to do it and there can’t be any financial reason, so fair play to him.”
Does he think Guy will pose a threat on the new Honda superbike?
“If you are Hutchy or Michael Dunlop you will probably be more consumed with each other than by Guy Martin.” Phillips smiles. “But Guy has always been a consistently good TT rider and he will be there this year with the most successful TT team in history. There will certainly be a lot of focus on him and he could finish first or fifteenth, it is impossible to know.”
‘It shows just how much he enjoys the TT. He clearly doesn’t need to do it, so fair play’ PAUL PHILLIPS, TT BOSS ‘He could finish first or fifteenth – it’s impossible to know’ PAUL PHILLIPS, TT BOSS