Guy Martin is returning to roadracing in 2017, signing with Honda Motor Europe.
In the just-announced deal, Martin will team up with longtime Honda man John McGuinness at the Isle of Man TT and North West 200 street circuit races, aboard the Honda CBR1000 RR SP2. The move comes as a bit of a surprise, as many expected Martin would not return to roadracing after his severe injuries of the 2015 season.
The likeable Brit stayed away from the street circuit scene in 2016; instead of the Isle of Man, he entered a bicycle race through the Rocky Mountains, and also spent a lot of time trying to set a new land speed record at Bonneville.
It sounds as if the move back into roadracing was not an easy choice. In the Honda press release, Martin said “I had a lot of thinking to do before I committed and said yes. I spent a lot of time on my push bike to and from work, thinking about what to do. I didn’t want to grow old regretting not giving the Honda a go.”
At his last IOMTT appearance, Martin was a busy man, racing a BMW S1000RR for TAS Racing, as well as piloting a Triumph Daytona 675 in the Supersport class, and even picking up a last-minute ride on Victory’s electric superbike.
This time around, Honda could equip him with machinery in every class except the TT Zero, where he might have the chance to ride the Mugen electric bike that McGuinness has won with there. However, Honda’s presser did not mention anything about racing in Supersport or other classes, only Superbike.
It’s not Martin’s first race with Honda; he raced for Honda teams in the past, but never the factory squad. Since 2010, he’s mostly ridden Suzukis and BMWs. He has plenty of podiums, but no wins at the Isle of Man.
The new CBR1000 RR SP2 is no doubt a big motivation for this move, as many are keen to see just what Honda’s new homologation special can do at the Mountain Circuit. Honda’s superbikes have lagged behind the competition in the past couple years, and the 2017 season could be a big step forward for the team.
Uniting McGuinness and Martin is also a very savvy PR move, as they’re probably the two most-liked riders at the TT. They’re both anxious for TT wins, too; Martin is no doubt hoping to get at least one win at the Isle of Man before retiring, and McGuinness is only three wins shy of tying Joey Dunlop’s record of 26 victories.