Honda man off the pace and out of sorts with NW200 and TT just days away DAYS TO GO

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS REPORTER STEPHEN DAV­I­SON ROADS REPORTER

Guy Martin’s chal­lenge for TT 2017 glory on the new Honda Racing Fire­blade is in trouble. That is the in­escapable con­clu­sion af­ter a dis­mal week­end for the Lin­colnshire man at the Cook­stown 100.

“I am a bit dis­heart­ened,” the Lin­colnshire man ad­mit­ted on Satur­day night.“i am struggling to find con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween me, the bike and the tyres. I’m not racing yet, I am just riding round.”

Guy had trav­elled to Cook­stown with the su­per­stock ver­sion of the new Fire­blade he is set to race at next week’s North West 200 and at the TT in early June. Three days ear­lier he had com­pleted his pre-sea­son test­ing sched­ule with team-mate John Mcguinness on both the su­per­stock and su­per­bike ver­sions of the 2017 Fire­blade they will ride in the Su­per­bike and Se­nior TTS.

In the open­ing big bike race on the 2.1-mile Or­ri­tor cir­cuit the 35-yearold fin­ished fifth, but was three sec­onds a lap off race win­ner Derek Sheils’ pace on a three-year-old Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Guy goes faster on a 600

It was a dis­ap­point­ing show­ing for the man who won the main event at the same venue in 2015 on a Tyco BMW stocker and Guy chose to sit out the Cook­stown 100 fea­ture race, declar­ing “there wasn’t any­thing to gain”.

An early warn­ing of Guy’s woes came af­ter Fri­day evening’s qual­i­fy­ing when the Honda Racing star re­united with 2010 spon­sor Wil­son Craig to ride a CBR600RR in the Su­per­sport class along­side his su­per­bike chal­lenge. His best su­per­bike qual­i­fy­ing lap was 1.6 sec­onds SLOWER than his fastest 600cc time. Guy’s best lap on the Fire­blade in Satur­day’s race was 3.2 sec­onds slower than Sheils.

Even though he had been adamant be­fore the event he wasn’t at Cook­stown to win races, it was still a wor­ry­ing per­for­mance, com­ing just a week af­ter Guy’s first lap crash on his re­turn to the roads at Tan­dragee and his brief-but-dis­ap­point­ing out­ing at the Scar­bor­ough Spring Cup.

Martin ad­mits he has a moun­tain to climb in his bid for TT glory.

“At the mo­ment we are maybe 90% there with the bike,” he ex­plained. “Ev­ery­thing re­volves around get­ting the elec­tron­ics right. It is a great bike up to about 90% but when you want to push hard, to get out of shape and spin it up, it won’t let you. It just doesn’t give me the con­fi­dence to be able to do that at the mo­ment. If we give it time we will get it sorted though.”

Elec­tron­ics spoil the show

Time is the one thing Guy and Honda don’t have with North West 200 prac­tice start­ing next week and TT ac­tion get­ting un­der­way in less than a month.

Asked if he thought things would have been dif­fer­ent at Cook­stown had he been riding the su­per­bike ver­sion of the new Fire­blade Guy shook his head.

“I can’t get the us­abil­ity with the elec­tron­ics on the su­per­bike that I want at the mo­ment,” he said.

“We have made gains and the bike turns into cor­ners bet­ter now but we still have work to do. I just can’t get that last lit­tle bit at the mo­ment. We will go to the North West and see if we can learn more.

“I am miles off the pace at the mo­ment and I know what I need to do to be on the pace,” he added.

Guy had fol­lowed his trade­mark ap­proach at Cook­stown by rolling up with the Honda in the back of his Tran­sit, hid­ing him­self away in a quiet, pri­vate garage with just a cou­ple of lo­cal helpers to lend a hand and min­i­mal of­fi­cial back-up.

But it’s not all over for Guy

“I have made a lot of notes in my lit­tle black book and I will go back to the Honda boys and try to get it sorted,” Guy said. “It is a Honda, it will be right. We will get to the bot­tom of it. We need to re­fine things and that is a slow process.”

Does he think there is a way to speed up the pace of that re­fine­ment? “I learnt a bit at Cook­stown even though the track is a bit stop/start.” Guy said.

“But I learnt a lot at Scar­bor­ough and at Tan­dragee. I loved Tan­dragee. I’ve told Neil Tux­worth we need to hire the Tan­dragee track for a pri­vate ses­sion and we will get the Honda sorted.”

‘When you want to push hard, to get out of shape and spin it up, it won’t let you’ GUY MARTIN

To be as far off the pace as Guy Martin was at the Cook­stown 100 this close to the start of the In­ter­na­tional road racing sea­son is far from an ideal po­si­tion for ei­ther Guy or his Honda team-mate, John Mcguinness.

The late de­liv­ery of the 2017 Fire­blade has hin­dered the de­vel­op­ment of the race ver­sions in WSB and the road race bikes have been fur­ther down the list of pri­or­ity, leav­ing the TT riders at an even greater dis­ad­van­tage.

It has been ob­vi­ous from the team’s pre-sea­son tests that the Bri­tish Honda Racing squad is un­der pres­sure to de­liver a race-win­ning BSB or road racing mo­tor­bike. Ev­ery­thing has been com­mit­ted to that task though, in a way that only Honda can man­age.


Mcguinness, who is now in his 17th year as a Honda rider, has taken a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the team’s prob­lems which largely re­volve around the com­plex elec­tron­ics of the new bike. Cou­pled with the squad’s sup­port, the More­cambe man’s ex­pe­ri­ence has turned other Hon­das into TT race-win­ners and he is hop­ing that they can make that hap­pen again.

Guy has been here be­fore though. In 2015 he made sim­i­lar com­plaints about the Tyco BMW’S elec­tron­ics pre­vent­ing him from do­ing what he wanted with the Ger­man su­per­bike. He strug­gled then to find the con­nec­tiv­ity he is seek­ing now but still man­aged vic­to­ries at Scar­bor­ough, the South­ern 100 and a 132mph lap at the TT. All is not yet lost.

In the midst of his de­spon­dency af­ter Cook­stown Guy said he would talk to Mcguinness about his prob­lems with the bike. “When Mcguinness talks you lis­ten,” Guy said. “No­body knows more about riding a Honda at the TT.”

‘I have made notes in my lit­tle book and I will go back to the Honda boys’ GUY MARTIN ‘When Mcguinness talks you lis­ten. No­body knows more than him’

Tough week­end but at least Guy had teabags Guy makes his way to the line at Cook­stown know­ing he has a moun­tain to climb

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