I began last week reading the headlines that Guy Martin could retire from racing at the end of the 2015 season. This column reflected on Guy’s impact on road racing and how things would be without him in the paddock.
Just a couple of days later, I was photographing Guy, resplendent in his new Tyco BMW leathers beside a gleaming S1000RR. In the subsequent interview Guy said he felt those retirement headlines might have been a little “twisted”, but he confirmed there was a “definite” possibility this could be his last TT although he wouldn’t be making up his mind “until I’m driving my van on to the ferry whether I will be coming back or not.”
Whether it is his last assault on the Mountain course or not, it is clear that Guy is taking the 2015 TT very, very seriously. Just a few hours after I spoke to the 33 year old Lincolnshire racer he agreed terms to ride a 675cc Triumph for the Smith family in the Supersport races. That deal means that Guy will now be mounted on machinery in 2015 that won in all of the main TT classes in 2014 in the hands of Michael Dunlop and Gary Johnson.
Over the past two seasons Guy has complained that he could not go any faster on the Suzuki GSXR 1000 that he has raced in the big bike races at the TT since joining the TAS team in 2011. The TAS Suzukis have not won a big bike race in the premier classes at the TT since Cameron Donald steered the GSXR to victory in 2008 and Guy clearly felt that the aging machine had ran out of steam against the latest offerings from Japan and Germany. But now he is on the S1000RR that Michael Dunlop made a winner three times over at last year’s TT.
Guy, to be fair, was not far away last season, finishing on the podium in both of the superbike events. He went on to beat Dunlop in the head to head mass start battles at the Southern 100 and Ulster Grand Prix. There is no doubt that Martin is fast enough to beat Dunlop on his day except, so far, at the TT.
The 2015 switch of manufacturers must offer Guy the best prospect he has had of getting that elusive maiden TT win since his Hydrex Honda days in 2008 but his latest Triumph deal might cause the BMW top brass some sleepless nights between now and the last lap of the Senior TT.
The German marque have been lured by the massive marketing potential of being the manufacturer who puts the bike beneath Guy Martin for his first TT win. The company’s marketing men will now be shuddering at the prospect hinted at in the Smith’s Triumph press release announcing Martin was joining the squad last week.
Should Guy be unsuccessful on the German superbike in any of the big bike races it raises the possibility that his first TT victory could come on a British built Triumph in one of the Supersport events Apart from being a PR disaster for the German company, a Triumph victory is certain to spark a plethora of ‘Battle of Britain’ style headlines featuring the former Spitfire builder!