Guy Martin has sensationally signed for Honda Racing alongside John McGuinness for this year’s Isle of Man TT.
The Grimsby man hasn’t raced the roads since a huge crash during the Dundrod 150 Superbike event at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2015.
He suffered multiple broken vertebrae in the crash and a broken sternum, with the frightening incident raising doubts over whether or not Martin would ever return to the infamous Mountain Course at the TT in the future, or any other race for that matter.
However, the 35-year-old truck mechanic and TV star has made a shock move to the official Honda team for 2017 after missing the TT last year, when he took on the challenge of the gruelling 2,712-mile Tour Divide mountain bike race.
Martin is set to ride Honda Superbike and Superstock machinery and the News Letter understands he will also return to the North West 200, Southern 100, Ulster Grand Prix and the Irish National meeting at Armoy, where he has been a regular in the past.
Martin said: "Neil [Tuxworth] has been talking to me for a while about joining the team, but 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, and the more time passes since making the decision, the more time I’ve thought it is the right decision.
"Honda is a great team and the Fireblade has always been a weapon on the roads, so with the new bike, I‘m keen to give it a go. We’ve got a busy testing schedule coming up and I’ve put some other stuff off to make time. John [McGuinness] is the man, I’ve got massive respect for him and I’m looking forward to racing on the Fireblade against him."
Martin is regarded as the best rider never to have won around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course but the former Tyco BMW star will try once again to hoist aloft the iconic Superbike and Senior trophies on Honda’s all-new Fireblade SP2 in June.
The fast-talking Englishman forms a formidable partnership with Morecambe Missile McGuinness, who twice finished third last year at the TT behind BMW-mounted Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson.
Martin's decision has come as a huge blow to Northern Ireland’s Tyco BMW team, with the Moneymore-based TAS Racing outfit always maintaining there was a ride available in the team for him should he wish to make a comeback.
The Lincolnshire rider – who made his TT debut in 2004 – will be required to compete in six events prior to the TT in order to gain his licence.
He is no stranger to Honda machinery, having ridden most notably for the Hydrex Racing and Wilson Craig teams in the past.
McGuinness, meanwhile, is only three wins away from matching Ulster hero Joey Dunlop’s all-time record of 26 victories at the TT.
Only BMW-mounted pair Michael Dunlop and Hutchinson had the edge over the 44-year-old last year in the premier races at the TT and McGuinness will be hoping the new CBR1000RR SP2 can provide him with the extra firepower he needs to make it onto the top step once more.