GUY’S SLOW PROGRESS RACE AGAINST TIME
Honda man off the pace and out of sorts with NW200 and TT just days away DAYS TO GO
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’