Guy Martin's best chance of Isle of Man victory?

Honda Racing's Guy Martin.
Honda Racing's Guy Martin.
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Guy Martin has been handed a golden opportunity to challenge for his maiden Isle of Man TT success after being confirmed alongside John McGuinness in Team Mugen for the Zero race in June.

Martin, who will make his road racing comeback this year after sensationally signing for Honda Racing, takes over the seat from Kiwi Bruce Anstey, who won the TT Zero race in 2016.

The Japanese machine will be known as the ‘Shinden Roku’ and has been extensively upgraded from the ’16 Shinden Go machine. The new model will be unveiled at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show at the end of March.

Lincolnshire rider Martin - who hasn’t raced in anger between the hedges since he was badly hurt in a crash in the Dundrod 150 Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2015 - made his debut in the electric race at the TT during the same year, when he rode the American Victory machine after replacing injury-victim William Dunlop. The 35-year-old finished in fourth place behind team-mate Lee Johnston, lapping at 109.717mph.

Team Mugen first competed in the zero emissions race at the TT in 2012 and have since become the dominant force in the one-lap event, with 23-time Mountain Course winner McGuinness clinching two wins and two runner-up finishes, while Anstey broke his duck in the class last June to maintain the team’s winning streak. Both Martin and McGuinness will test the new bike in Japan in April.

Martin has never managed to scale the top step of the rostrum at the TT, but in the Mugen he has a machine that is far superior to anything else in the line-up and his only realistic opposition comes from team-mate McGuinness in what should be, in theory at least, a two-horse race. McGuinness will start as the favourite given his previous success in the event in recent years, but Martin has a solid chance on an equal machine to finally toast a victory on the island.

A team statement said: “In April both riders will fly out to Tokyo where they will meet up with their 2017 TT Zero machines, Shinden Roku (Shinden 6), and the dedicated team behind the machine that is expected to break the land-mark 120mph barrier for the first time this year.

“Having been an integral part of the Mugen Shinden project since the start of the programme in 2012, for John McGuinness it will be like returning to family, and for Guy Martin it will be an introduction to the battery-powered bike that he hopes will take him to his first TT Zero victory.”

Morecambe man McGuinness holds the lap record for the TT Zero class at 119.279mph, which he set in 2015, surpassing his 1999 250cc lap record of 118.29mph.