I’ve been vaguely aware of Guy Martin for a while, and he’s always struck me as an interesting sort of man. That may surprise you given that he’s a truck mechanic from Grimsby. However he’s also a motorbike racer of some note on his days off. He’s got I think 15 TT titles under his belt, and you don’t get that far without being completely mental, and he’s also a bit of a whizz at GP riding.
Normally this wouldn’t really have an impact on me, since I don’t follow bike racing a lot, but I saw a couple of documentaries in the past week that showed him as both talented and amiable.
In one of the films, he had to pit his GP bike against an F1 car driven by the equally amiable David Coulthard. It was fascinating.
In a straight line braking test, DC wiped the floor with GM. No big surprise there. Where the surprise came was in the ¼ mile drag race. I reckoned the bike could win here, leaving the car smoking its tyres, but once DC got rolling and the downforce gave him some much needed grip he stormed past. But it was close. Incidentally, before the race, DC’s team principal was heard to mutter, ‘At least it’s a straight line. Even DC should be able to stay on the track.’
No surprise in the slalom either, which GM won while making it look as if he were merely taking his Cycling Proficiency Test. DC meanwhile was having to feed in gobbets of power to get the tail to move around to manoeuvre through the narrow gaps.
Last up, a shootout round the Silverstone GP circuit. I was pretty sure the car would win this, but there was a handicapping system whereby GM only had to do three laps, while DC had to do four, and hence overtake. Took DC a bit of time to get things moving again, but then he waltzed past as if the biker were still taking the Cycling Proficiency Test.
But one of the best aspects was the establishment and growth of a real rapport between the two. They really did seem to be ending up as good buddies, and so it proved in the second film. Guy set himself the task of becoming the fastest ever Wall of Death rider, and the lantern-jawed one went along to give moral support.
Needless to say, the whiskered one from Grimsby cracked it, firstly on an Indian Scout motorcycle, much favoured by WoD riders because, if memory serves me from a while back, they have updraft carburettors that don’t flood with the g force.
Then he had another go using, characteristically, a bike he’d knocked up from bits he had in his shed. I think 78 mph while riding horizontally is pretty damned good going, especially since it meant pulling something in the region of 7g without blacking out.