MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix chief Noel Johnston says he will be delighted to welcome 11-time winner Guy Martin back to the fastest road race in the world in August.
Martin has signed for Honda Racing alongside John McGuinness to ride the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 on the roads this season in a sensational move, exclusively revealed by the News Letter.
The 35-year-old suffered a huge crash while leading the Dundrod 150 Superbike race in 2015 and sustained injuries including broken vertebrae and a broken sternum, but road racing’s biggest star will be back on the grid at the historic road race this summer.
Clerk of the Course Johnston said: “While many thought that Guy’s road racing career was behind him, I’ve always thought he’d return – he has serious unfinished business at the TT and with us at Dundrod. No one wants to end their career on anything but a high.
“We went out of our way last year to try to get him to the Ulster but due to his other commitments we just couldn’t make it work. Last year’s event was undoubtedly one of the best road races in recent memory, but Guy was definitely missed.
“Having him there this year is the missing piece of the jigsaw. The fans love him and having arguably the sport’s biggest star line up for that sensational mass start at Dundrod will hopefully translate into a big boost in spectator numbers for us,” he added.
“Guy’s made no secret in the past for his love of the circuit and I had a suspicion we hadn’t seen the last of him. It’s without a doubt the place where he’s enjoyed the most success, and with 11 wins to his name around Dundrod, he’s one of our highest ever achievers.”
Johnston expects Martin to be fully dialled in by the time the UGP swings round in August, although he admits it remains to be seen if he can take the fight to 134mph man Ian Hutchinson, Ulster’s own Michael Dunlop and of course the evergreen Bruce Anstey.
“How he’ll perform this year is anyone’s guess, obviously he’s up against the leaders of the pack at the TT and he’ll need some serious track time on the new Fireblade before he gets to the Isle of Man. Whether he can take the fight to Michael and Hutchy I don’t know, but it’s sure to make for some great racing,” Johnston said.
“When it comes to Dundrod though, he knows that circuit like the back of his hand and despite his lack of time on a bike last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on the podium. It sounds like he’s coming at it more determined than ever, and new boss Neil Tuxworth certainly knows how to win a race.”
The international MCE Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week will run between August 6-12.