Guy Martin Generates Heat at Isle of Man TT

June 25, 2010
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Wilson Craig Honda rider Guy Martin on the gas at the 2010 Isle of Man TT, before the 170-mph fireball crash.

Guy Martin generated considerable heat at this year’s Isle of Man TT, both literal and figurative. First the literal: Martin crashed his Wilson Craig Honda in the event-concluding Senior TT race. The impact of the triple-digit get off (at least 150mph, though Martin in interviews reckons maybe 170mph) caused his bike to explode in a fireball.

The Craig Wilson Honda Superbike had just been refueled for the final laps of the TT, with the extra weight of the fuel cited by Martin as a possible reason why he lost the bike in the high-speed Ballygary turn. The crash caused a red-flag restart for the event and gave the English rider some cracked vertebrae, broken ribs and bruised lungs. A lucky trade off, in retrospect, as there were two fatalities in the previous day’s Supersport race (which Martin finished fourth).

Carted off to the hospital to recover, Martin’s crash was a memorable final act to his TT drama, but he generated the figurative heat courtesy of his behavior off the track. The drama started in the opening Superbike TT, where Martin had a second-place finish spoiled when he was penalized 30 seconds for tripping the pit lane speed limit by a mere 0.122kmph. The penalty pushed Martin down to fourth. Two days later in the next race, the first Supersport TT, Martin fell three-seconds short in a superb duel with Ian Hutchinson (who would go on to astound all road racing fans with his unprecedented five-TT wins). The controversy came later, when Martin, still upset by the previous penalty, didn’t stay on the Supersport podium for the champagne and then proceeded to fumble through an awkward post-race press conference – Martin spending most of his attention on eating an energy bar and playing around with his rucksack. (Watch the Supersport 1 TT press conference.)

Martin is a bit of an odd duck in the road racing paddock, his quirkiness one of the reasons why he is one of the most popular riders. His popularity isn’t lessened by the fact that he has never won a TT or North West 200. It will probably not subside much by his Supersport TT podium/press conference behavior either.

Others, like Performance Technical Racing’s Simon Buckmaster, are less amused by Martin’s actions.

Guy Martin will look to return to road racing at the Isle of Man Southern 100, the English rider still recovering from injuries sustained at the 2010 TT.

Buckmaster has made his feelings on Martin known in a brutally frank public statement posted on the PTR website. Performance Technical Racing runs the Parkalgar Honda team in World Supersport (where it has been quite successful, with rider Eugene Laverty a top contender for the 2010 title). PTR also provided the TT racebikes for Wilson Craig Honda, the team for which Martin campaigns.

In a public statement, Buckmaster bristles in his chastisement of Martin and the Englishman’s actions at the TT. He also calls out Martin for the real reasons why he is yet to win the big race – a lack of professionalism. Buckmaster cites Martin’s disrespectful podium/press conference demeanor, and also takes issue with statements made by Martin in a magazine interview regarding a PTR staff member.

Read Buckmaster’s full statement below (courtesy of the PTR website). In the meantime, Martin continues to recover from his injuries and plans a return to the Southern 100 races July 12-15 at the Isle of Man. Should he compete, Martin would be defending his 2009 win at the Southern 100.

Simon Buckmaster – The Isle of Man TT and Guy Martin

NOW, some people may wonder why I would comment on the Isle of Man TT races being the Team Manager for Parkalgar Honda in World Supersport and the answer is simple; our company PTR which runs the Parkalgar team tuned and supplied the bikes to the Wilson Craig Team and his rider Guy Martin.

First off, it was a pleasure to work with Wilson Craig, he is a very shrewd operator who knows his stuff on road racing inside and out. He knows what he wants and has the means to achieve it and I sincerely hope that PTR has a long and successful relationship with him. It was out first year together and we learnt a lot about each other but I think we can win many races in the future.

A second place in the Supersport race is a good result for Guy. Watching the DVD it is clear that the bike was more than competitive, overtaking just about anything on the straight. We’d expect that though because we produce what we believe is the best Supersport bike in the world.

The Superbike was a new venture for us and while we built it to a specification below what we would use in WSB or BSB, which is necessary for a TT machine, it too was also more than competitive. Guy was challenging for the lead in the second Superbike race after leading on lap one when he crashed and would have finished second in the opener if it hadn’t been for a time penalty. That’s impressive for our first go at the island and I am proud of the PTR team involved – well done Alan and Mark.

To be fair we would have liked a win but Guy Martin has yet to win around the island and 2010 was not going to be his year either – but even that I think is fixable. Guy is a quick rider who is immensely popular but he is flawed, he needs to listen to some advice if he wants to win at the TT as he says he does.

I had numerous conversations with him and he listened but then completely ignored everything we agreed on. He didn’t listen and didn’t win; unless he changes his attitude he will never win. In fact when he talks in public, as he did in an Irish Racer Magazine recent feature, the way he relays his last conversation with me is the opposite of the truth.

First thing Guy needs to learn is that the rules apply to him as much as anyone else. He may cultivate a “just another one of the boys’’ image and have legions of admirers but it is not true and distracts him from the racing. How many of the boys have Aston Martins for a start – not many. How many race at the TT and have credible chances to win – again not many. It’s all a facade.

He needs to stop being distracted and lift his professionalism. Instead of being a TV star and courting publicity 24×7, he should be concentrating on racing and what’s needed to win. Get his focus and concentration into racing, not promoting his name and money-spinning deals. At the TT he made a tyre company choice based more on financial gain to him than maybe the best tyre choice and paid the price. Once again he needs to drop the ‘I am only interested in racing my bikes and sleeping in the van act’ and actually show that winning is the most important thing to him; as they say actions speak louder than words. He has got better but still has another step to go regarding leaving the bikes to the mechanics and not to try to be the crew chief.

Going back to his feature in Irish Racer Magazine he used unacceptable bad language and criticised a member of PTR staff and that upset me deeply. First, it was unprofessional and secondly the member of staff he criticised is one of the major reasons he scored as high at the TT this year as he did. PTR is challenging for a World Championship for the second year in a row and has nothing to prove – never a winner at the TT Guy Martin still has it all to prove.

Another unprofessional move by Guy was to disrespect the Supersport podium ceremony and then follow that up by being downright rude and ignorant in the press conference. Eating and drinking while you are being interviewed has no excuse but then again this is all part of the problem that is stopping him from winning at the TT – he is not approaching it seriously or with a professional attitude, instead spending far too much time promoting this image of what type of person he is. Come on, under all of this Guy you can be a genuine person so just do it!

And there is a serious point here because if he keeps up his unprofessional approach then he may never win a TT. Not only will his own preparations be flawed but there will be very few teams capable of fielding a winning bike that will want to deal with him. Mind you that might be the best thing for him because then he would have to buy and run his own team by himself and then he can do what he likes. The one thing he is unlikely to do in that situation is win…

Now Guy may get annoyed with me for saying all of this but it is simply the constructive truth and if he listens then he will improve his chances of winning enormously. I for one hope he does listen, smartens up his act and wins many TT races in the future – and I’d be happy to help him achieve that.

Off to Misano next for the World Supersport Championship – catch up with you all after that.

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