GUY’S CLAS­SIC COME­BACK

Guy Martin goes old-school rac­ing on­board 1100cc Team Clas­sic Suzuki Katana

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page -

Guy Martin put his TT night­mare firmly be­hind him last week­end as he helped Team Clas­sic Suzuki to their best ever re­sult at the Spa fourhour en­durance race in Bel­gium.

Rid­ing a hand-built 1982 Katana 1100, Guy and team-mate Peter Boast came home in sev­enth place - an im­pres­sive re­sult con­sid­er­ing Guy’s first sight of Spa was a track­day the Thurs­day be­fore the race, Boast had never rid­den the Katana be­fore and nei­ther of them had ex­pe­ri­ence of the tyres!

It was Guy’s first race since his calami­tous TT fort­night, where he had a ter­ri­fy­ing crash on the new Honda Fire­blade and opted not to race in the Se­nior. For­tu­nately for Guy, his Honda con­tract al­lows him to race any clas­sic, so he was able to take up Suzuki’s of­fer.

Speak­ing to MCN af­ter rid­ing the fi­nal 40-minute ses­sion and seal­ing a great re­sult for Team Clas­sic Suzuki, Guy was fizzing with his trade­mark en­thu­si­asm, de­spite atro­ciously wet con­di­tions that left deep pud­dles on parts of the track: “I’ve had a great night. It’s back to rid­ing bikes with­out any bull­shit. It’s not that I haven’t en­joyed what’s gone on this year, but it’s been a test­ing time with the Honda job.”

It had looked as though Boast would bring the bike home, but a ri­val team suf­fered a big crash and left oil on the track while Guy was out and the race was red-flagged and cut short by 30 min­utes.

“It was the right de­ci­sion to stop the race,” said Guy. “I didn’t know if the bloke had crashed and dropped the oil, or the en­gine had shat it­self and that caused him to crash. Ei­ther way, the track was a right mess at the end of the back straight so they had to stop it.”

Boast too was on a high af­ter the che­quered flag came out: “I’m re­ally chuffed. We wanted to be top 20 in qual­i­fy­ing and scrape into the top 10 in the race and we’ve done that easily. Rid­ing with Guy is al­ways great, though I didn’t know he was go­ing to be so com­pet­i­tive with me! Sharon (Guy’s girl­friend) said that his first ques­tion when he came in each time was al­ways ‘how fast was I com­pared to Boastie?’. Lit­tle f***er! I thought it was just two mates shar­ing a ride, plus he’s al­ways go­ing to be quicker than me. Mind you, say­ing that, I was check­ing my times against him to make sure I wasn’t way off.”

Which he wasn’t, with the duo lap- ping within a cou­ple of sec­onds of each other dur­ing most of the race.

Tough com­pe­ti­tion

The re­sult is all the more im­pres­sive when you con­sider the com­pe­ti­tion: the top 15 teams are all made up of bat­tle-hard­ened en­durance vet­er­ans with rid­ers such as Ian Simp­son (EX-BSB champ and TT win­ner) and Mike Ed­wards (Ma­cau GP win­ner). Whereas this was, ef­fec­tively, Team Clas­sic Suzuki’s first out­ing as their first race at Don­ing­ton ended on lap one when James Whitham crashed out.

“We hadn’t run the bike for more than 20 min­utes,” said the team’s crew chief Nathan Colombi. “So for it to run fault­lessly for three-and-a-half hours in wet con­di­tions is an achieve­ment. We’re re­ally pleased. A lot of the other bikes are in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive with many of the teams run­ning the same bike and rider com­bi­na­tion for three or four years. They’re at 99% of their po­ten­tial. We’re prob­a­bly at 70%.”

Con­se­quently there are plenty of im­prove­ments to be made, added Colombi: “We need to look at im­prov­ing the throt­tle re­sponse - when the weather closed in it made the bike run rich and feel woolly so it’s a learn­ing process. And we need to im­prove the lights so the rid­ers can see where they’re go­ing!”

Colombi was im­pressed with how Guy fit­ted in. “He seemed to love the non-cor­po­rate style of team that we run. We have no-one to an­swer to - we just want to have fun. And it’s very much an old-school bike with a big set of carbs, and that fits with what Guy’s into. And he’s learn­ing to trust us - it’s a com­mit­ment to go and ride as fast as you can on a bike that’s been pre­pared by some­one you don’t know.”

Guy’s in­volve­ment started when he and Boast were prac­tis­ing short track rac­ing to­gether ear­lier in the year. “He asked if I fan­cied rac­ing at Spa and it started from there,” said Guy. “To start with we were go­ing to just come down here [to Spa] and race out the back of a van, but then Pete (Lit­tle­wood, who runs Guy’s lo­cal Suzuki dealer) said he could get us a loan of the Katana.”

So will we see Guy on the Katana again? “I re­ally hope so,” says Colombi. “The next round is at Imola and Guy’s said he’s in­ter­ested…”

‘I’ve had a great night. It’s back to rid­ing bikes with­out any bulls***’ GUY MARTIN

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