OUR GUY IN JAPAN
And with John Mcguinness as a guide –what could go wrong?
Guy Martin travel led to Japan last week to test the 2017 version of the Mugen Shinden electric bike that he will race in this year’s Zero TT. Showing the Lincolnshire man the ropes was John Mcguinness, Guy’s Honda Racing team-mate and the man who has ridden every electric bike Mugen have built.
The duo spent five days in Japan, visiting everything from the Honda museum at Motegi to Sumo wrestlers in Tokyo alongside their on-track duties. Tagging along for the fun and games was MCN’S road racing reporter Stephen Davison. There was rarely a dull moment...
It isn’t every day you see someone emerge from the business class lounge of a major airline wearing tanker driver trousers with reflective bottoms but then again, it isn’t every day Guy Martin flies to Japan. The truck mechanic could have come straight from beneath a Scania as he arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport with John Mcguinness.
As the duo waited in a queue to check into their Ikebukuro hotel Guy was recognised by a group of visitors who wanted to know if he was in Tokyo to make another of his television programmes. He is famous even here.
“I’m here to see a man about a dog mate,” Guy told them with a typically big grin.
Leaving Tokyo for Motegi and the Honda Collection Hall with two Japanese journalists, they quizzed the British duo on the new Fireblade before asking John why he didn’t race in the sidecar TT races. The 23-times TT winner said he might think about it.
Guy deflected the questions by declaring he wants to build a turbo Fireblade for his new team-mate.
“It will be the Guy Martin and John Mcguinness race team,” he joked.
“Bike racing in England is boring nowadays because it doesn’t allow for radical ideas like this. We will put NASA or Microsoft on the fairing to make it look like we’ve got big sponsors!”
The former Pike’s Peak winner also
revealed he is building a seven-litre, 1500bhp pick-up truck to race at this year’s American hillclimb event.
The Honda Collection at Motegi can only be described as heaven for any motorcycle enthusiast. Every road bike and race bike built by Honda, plus all of their four-wheel models, are on display. Martin and Mcguinness were like two kids in a toy shop as they crawled under ropes to inspect crankcases and clambered over Do Not Enter signs for a closer look.
Mcguinness was entranced by the Hrc-built Seven Stars Honda that triumphed in the 2005 Suzuka 8 Hour race.
“We need a bit of that Guy,” he told his Honda TT team-mate as they inspected the brilliantly engineered Fireblade.
The complexity of the engines of the 1960s red and silver Hondas that Mike Hailwood, Jim Redman, Luigi Taveri and Ralph Bryans won world titles with blew Guy away. Even after a marathon five hours of viewing he still wanted another final look at the five cylinder 125cc Honda.
The next stop was the Sodegaura Forest Raceway where the duo would test the new Mugen Shinden.
En route Guy mused as to whether he would rather be a mechanic or a racer.
“I only started riding because I enjoyed building my own bikes,” the truck announced.
“Then I won a couple of races and I liked winning so I raced more and won more. But I probably do like building more than riding.”
At Sodegaura, Guy was introduced to the team and new bike. Both Guy and John Mcguinness were impressed by the new Shinden 6.
“Are you feeling it?” Mcguinness asked. “oh yes,” a starry-eyed Guy replied. “they really look the part.”
Such was Guy’s enthusiasm that one of the mechanics asked if he wanted to take the bike back to his hotel room.
“This new Shinden is a lot thinner,” Mcguinness told his mechanics.
“The old bike was fatter, like an old wife. Now I have a new wife,” he joked as the Mugen men fell about laughing.
It was a sign of the respect and commitment that Mugen have for Mcguinness and Martin that the whole team were present to greet them at 7.30pm on a dark and wet Sunday night.
“It never ceases to amaze me what these people do, how they keep pushing on with the bike’s development,” Mcguinness added.
Before we left for the hotel the team manager, Akihiro Miyata pointed to the Shinden 4 machine sitting in the corner.
“If you crash the new bike you can ride that old bike,” he told the duo, laughing. It was to be more prophetic than he could have imagined (see page 4 for the full story from testing).
‘If you crash the new bike, you ride the old one’ MUGEN’S AKIHIRO MIYATA
Guy spent five hours examining some of the amazing machines at the Honda museum Guy and John arrive in Japan ready to test the electric TT Zero Mugen
two heavyweights of TT racing Sumo wrestler (centre!) with
The Honda museum is Guy’s idea of heaven
Mcguinness and Martin soak up the incredible detail of the new Mugen