Will Guy race in 2017?
TV star refuses to rule out TT comeback but says if he returns he’ll be ‘in it to win it’
A year ago the big question on everyone’s mind was, “Will Guy Martin race in 2016?” Twelve months on, the speculation remains.
“I don’t know if I’m done with the TT and all or not,” Guy said at last weekend’s Burt Munro Challenge. “I’ve done well as a part-time racer, so could walk away with no regrets. But I’m still undecided.”
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But Guy did do lots of things in 2016. He pulled off a new Wall of Death world speed record of 78.150mph. He completed the 2745-mile Tour
Divide cycle race in America, under the pseudonym Terry Smith. And he even tried to cross the English Channel in a pedal-powered blimp.
Most spectacularly of all, Guy had his first crack at setting a new world land speed record on two wheels at Bonneville in a twin-turbo Rocket III-powered Triumph.
Only last weekend Guy highlighted his unpredictability by racing in New
Zealand, so is there a possibility he will make a return to racing between the hedges?
“I’m stopping the filming for a year to get the trucking business back to where we need to be and I’ll take some time to think about stuff,” said Guy. “If I do go back, it’ll be a dedicated year of my life – that’s what it takes to win.”
As always, Guy’s daredevil exploits in 2016 attracted a lot of attention. As a high-profile television star, the 35-year-old is a bona fide mainstream celebrity these days. TV cameras recorded most of his stunts and challenges.
That seems to be how Guy approaches his two-wheeled outings these days; as either part of what he calls his ‘TV job’ or, as with the Tour Divide ride, personal affairs that he does simply because he wants to, and can.
But the one thing Guy conspicuously did not do in 2016 was ride a racing motorcycle in anger.
There were no road racing outings for his Tyco BMW team, even though team boss Philip Neill had promised to have a S1000RR at Guy’s disposal any time riding it took his fancy.
And while Guy was elsewhere completing his circus-style feats for the TV cameras, his old sparring partner, Ian Hutchinson, was accomplishing what Guy had singularly failed to do since joining the Northern Ireland-based squad in 2011 – winning a TT race.
Hutchy brought the team’s eight-year-old TT famine to an end with a Superstock race win in 2016, and will race for Neill’s outfit again next season.
The Tyco squad has left the door open for Guy in 2017 and there will be a bike available if he wants it. What other rider could ever hope to be in that position other than perhaps Marc Marquez or Valentino Rossi?
But in the past Guy has struggled to find the time to complete even a couple of one-day tests before the season begins in anger, never mind the type of pre-season testing and British championship competition that has underpinned the razor-sharp race readiness of Michael Dunlop and Hutchinson.
There is also little love lost between Guy and Hutchy, so would Guy really want to go back to the TT and risk having to play second fiddle to his old foe?
And even if he was prepared to take that chance, would his television bosses allow it? The 2016 Wall of Death ride had to be postponed for six months after the Guy was injured in an Ulster Grand Prix crash, adding huge costs to the production that the TV people won’t be keen to risk incurring again.
With Guy’s commitment to the ‘TV job’ and his desire to pursue his own path there is now a sense in the road racing paddock that he has moved on to pastures new – and that road racing has moved on from Guy.
So although there’s no doubt that, if, Guy being Guy, he took the notion he wanted another crack at the TT he would be there, the odds seem stacked against it for 2017.
As Guy says: “I’ve had some grand results but not quite enough. But to win I’d need to be totally dedicated. Can I do that? I don’t know yet, but if I do I’ll be in it to win it – or I’ll walk away with nothing to prove and loads of great memories. We’ll see…”