Guy Martin has enjoyed the kind of success throughout his career that fellow riders lining up alongside him on today’s grid can only dream about – but joining the mountain course elite is something that still eludes one of motorcycling’s most charismatic and controversial ambassadors.
And, with today being the last in the 2015 Isle of Man race schedule, the 32 year-old Lincolnshire-based rider will be hoping to make his mark in the main race of the fortnight – the Senior TT.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post he described the six 37-mile laps along mountain stretches, village roads and farmyard backwaters when speeds reach over 200mph and trees are used as crash barriers as “only a motorbike race.” In the last six years Martin has been on the podium on the Isle of Man more than 10 times, but has never quite made it to the top spot.
He has also had mixed fortunes so far this year and had to retire during the first race on Sunday.
Competing on board a Triumph he took a third place on Wednesday in the second of the Supersport races.
Earlier in the week he finished fifth in the first leg followed by a seventh place in the Superstock race on board the Tyco BMW S1000RR, which he is competing on for the first time this season.
The headlines this fortnight have been stolen by popular Yorkshireman, Ian Hutchinson from Bingley, who has taken three wins at the TT in an astounding comeback from career-threatening injuries suffered five years ago at a British Supersport Championship round at Silverstone.
Hutchy, as he is known to his legions of fans, suffered compound fractures to his left leg after crashing in a wet first lap and being run over by another machine.
But for Martin, each year there seems to be more hype centred on ‘the one that got away’ and this year it is combined with mounting speculation that the lorry mechanic will be bringing the chequered flag down on his racing career at the end of the season.
And by his own admission he would have expected to fare better at the world’s most famous – and dangerous – road race.
Martin said: “It would be great to win a TT race but [I am more bothered that] I had 100 per cent passes for my trucks and I am good at my job. I would rather be known as Guy Martin – motorbike racer and a decent fitter.”
With all his career success so far and foray into TV, Martin does not need to be in a garage in Grimsby at 7am repairing trucks and nor does he need to put his life on the line to win races for the prize money but, he says it’s never been about the money.
“I started working for the BBC five years ago and I only ever do stuff that stirs me,” he said.
“I have been offered the earth but we are not doing anything else this year.”
Sometimes accused of being flippant and even arrogant, he admits he has struggled to find a balance between taking opportunities in life and dealing with the attention that comes with it.
He said: “Fixing lorries is the best thing in the world, it is my Stockholm syndrome, it keeps it real. I can’t go anywhere now and I struggle with crowds of people.
“My life is not hard. I am not riddled with cancer or fighting in Afghanistan and I am not ungrateful for the support I get. With the TV I got to do some amazing stuff.
“It opened a lot of doors and I met a lot of people I wouldn’t have if I had not done that.
“I still drive a transit van and I have got a Volvo estate. I don’t live like a rock star and I don’t need to do it for the pay packet.”
But, when asked if he would swap it all for the sheer love and thrill of racing a motorbike, he admits: “Yes, I would. That is all I want to do – I just love to ride motorbikes out of the back of a van.”