Northern Ireland’s Mar-Train Racing team announced its arrival on the British championship stage this season with a dream rookie campaign in the cut and thrust Supersport class.
The Lisburn-based outfit has long had a reputation as being a team that prided itself on professionalism, with the immaculately presented blue and white liveried machines standing out from the crowd in the Irish racing paddocks.
This year, Tim and Sonya Martin proved their team has the substance to match the style.
Dublin rider Jack Kennedy went agonisingly close to scooping the British crown for the championship newcomers in a nail-biting climax at the final round.
With no intention of resting on his laurels, team principal Tim Martin has moved swiftly to assemble a new, two-man line-up to go one step further in 2013.
Respected Scotsman Stuart Easton has already been unveiled as a big-name signing for Martin, with a second rider set be confirmed this week.
Young prospect Taylor Mackenzie competed alongside Kennedy in the Mar-Train colours this season in the Supersport class.
Few expected the team to make such a convincing debut in the championship, but Martin had left no stone unturned in his preparations.
“It was always going to be a learning year for us as it was our first full year in British Supersport,” he told the News Letter.
“We had done a lot of hard work prior to going to the championship because we’ve been running a team for six or seven years.
“We brought in Andy Jamison [crew chief] and a few others who have worked in the British championship paddocks and that gave us a big head-start and brought us up to speed quite quickly.
“Even though we didn’t bring the championship home it was a fantastic year.”
The British title may be the undisputed priority, but Martin has a long-held ambition of winning at the North West 200.
“Stuart has a great pedigree and we’re going there with the right package and the right rider and we have a chance of winning at the North West, which is brilliant,” he said.
“But there is no doubt that trying to win the British title in 2013 is our plan, although unfortunately another eight or nine guys have the same plan!”