Att Year To Forget

Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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"At the time I was a bit doom and gloom you know. The Isle of Man is the best place in the world when everything is going right and I love being there and all that. But last year, the last race - the Senior - was on the Friday. The original plan was that I wasn't getting home until the following Tuesday, but I'd had enough because of what had happened. I know a fella in the ferry terminal so managed to do a deal, I could not wait to get off the place.

"So I managed to get off on the Saturday morning, I was at home by the Saturday afternoon and went back to work on the Sunday. And as soon as I went back to work then I was with people where nobody gives a s**\ you just get your boots on and that's it. Then it's time for the tea break and by the time the tea break comes around then that's it. I'd forgotten about it.

"I think that if I was a professional racer then I would have really taken it to heart you know, I would have slit my wrists I think."

We should point out for those of you who don't know that Guy works full-time as a truck-fitter at his dad's garage. So when he says 'professional racer' he means a rider who does nothing else but race. It's an important thing to appreciate about the Guy Martin outlook on racing. Anyway, back to the review of last year's TT event.

"I was thinking about how I went at the NorthWest. I had a load of shit there. I was leading both races and we had problems in both. In one of the races the bike s*** itself and in the other we had brake trouble, then I fell off in the 600 race, which was my fault. I came away thinking 'well at least I've got the bad luck out the way before the TT' but then by the time we got there it couldn't have been any worse, could it?"

One podium in the Superstock race was scant consolation for the catalogue of things that went wrong for the Hydrex team, but at least while their bike was running it was fast in the hands of Martin who was a major thorn in the side of always fast man John McGuinness.

Good weeks on the Island are good, naturally so. But when you're having a rough time there then your perspective can be skewed slightly.

"Oh bloody hell, definitely. If you believed all the smoke that was blown up your arse during the TT then you'd be done for. Certain riders do, they have a mega year and go out and buy motorhomes, buy cars and don't go back to work afterwards and all that.

"And to be fair, if I thought that if my whole season was just aiming at theTT then I'd be the same because you'd just end up believing the hype.

"But that's what I don't do, I like getting back to reality and bringing back a bit of normality to the job. If you believe the hype around the TT then, bloody hell, you'd think you were a superstar. That's just not my cup of tea at all.

"You know, I won't sell out and if every time there was a microphone or camera put in front of me I came out with the same spiel about Honda, lyres or this and that then I'd know I was in trouble - f*** that, that's just not me. I race because I enjoy it and if I stopped enjoying it then I'd stop doing it, that's how I am and if folk wanted me to talk about what I don't want to talk about then I won't do it."

It's fair to assume then that Guy Martin is most definitely his own man. A non-professional, professional who works a nine-to-five in the week and at weekends just happens to also be one of the quickest road riders on the planet.

He might have been one of the favourites to win at least one race at the 2008TT, but Guy Martin's campaign went from bad to utter disaster.

His only solace was a third place finish in the Superstock race, but if any race epitomised the clutch of breakdowns and mechanical woes that plagued hisTT event, it was the Senior. Early on it was between Guy and the host of other big names in a jaw-dropping opening salvo of laps before an electrical fault on his Honda Fireblade saw the big bike refuse to fire back into life as he tried to get out of the pits to start lap three. After much pushing and a huge effort by the team, the bike eventually got going, but it died again at Quarterbridge. And that was the end of the race.

Speaking after the final race, Guy said: "It's been a disastrous!!" for me and I don't know what I've done to get the luck, or lack of it, that I've had -anybody would think I've been walking under ladders and breaking mirrors and all sorts!

"I knew as soon as I left the line that the bike wasn't right and although I was able to hang in there I wasn't riding the race I wanted to be doing. When I came into the pits, I said to the boys that she wasn't running right, but we persevered. When she didn't fire up, I knew it was over. Everyone in the team has worked their backsides off this fortnight and all the problems have been out of our hands -it's no one's fault and there's nothing more we could have done."

But the TT is a different discipline and it can be as tough on the riders as on the bikes underneath them. Guy has the experience and understanding enough to be able to know exactly what makes a big bike race around the Mountain Course so demanding.

"It's tough because where else do you race for 220 miles and two pit stops like that? That's what makes it so hard and there's just so much that could go wrong, it's not just down to the rider, it's down to the pitlane and crew too. They are the ones who have put the bike together and they're the ones that work on it in pitlane.

"It is physically demanding, but the biggest thing about the TT is your mindset. You can find your mind wandering a bit and when your mind starts to wander you start to make mistakes."

It's a tough job, but a lot of what makes a TT rider successful is the preparation for any particular year, and as far as Guy goes this year's build-up is a lot more simple than in 2008.

"I've trimmed down some of my short circuit racing, but only so that I would enjoy my racing again. You know, mega series that it is, in the BSB last year I didn't really enjoy it.

"Last year, up until theTT I was enjoying everything and everything was right, but after theTT it was a chore to go to the meetings and it shouldn't be. I go racing as my hobby and I wasn't enjoying it. So I started questioning why I was doing it and realised that I needed to get back and start enjoying racing bikes again.

"So for this year the plan was to do two BSB meetings before the roads start, which means doing Oulton and the series opener at Brands with me riding Brands on the Supersport bike and Oulton on the Superbike - but the way the Superbike's been built this year there really is no difference (other than the weight! between the Superbike as a TT bike and the Superbike as a BSB bike. The way my bike is built, it's just perfect for the TT so you know it was never going to be right for a short circuit and I was just going to take it out to get some miles on it.

"But I don't want to be beat before we've even set off in a BSB race and at the end of the day there's nothing wrong with it. It's just that it's built a bit heavier and to put it out against short circuit bikes wouldn't be the thing to do really.

"So, because there isn't much you can do with it, in terms of changing stuff, we're going to do both rounds on the Supersport bike - we can just tune it a bit more in terms of the component parts of the bike. And I think I'll be in with a good shout at getting a good result in the Supersport races, too.

"Then after the roads, after the TT really, we're just going to take in bits and bobs wherever we feel like it. I'm going to do more roads, just a few more meetings more suited to me really."

ill UK

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