Guy Martin in Honda bow at Tandragee

Guy Martin on the 2017 Fireblade at the Honda test in Monteblanco, Spain
Guy Martin on the 2017 Fireblade at the Honda test in Monteblanco, Spain
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Guy Martin will make his Honda Racing debut at the Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 next month, as exclusively revealed in the News Letter on March 1.

The organising North Armagh Club confirmed the Lincolnshire rider had entered the hugely popular road race yesterday.

Martin will ride his new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 Superstock machine in both the Open and Tandragee 100 feature races on Saturday, April 22, as the Irish National road racing season clicks into gear.

A statement issued by the club said: “The North Armagh Motorcycle & Car Club Ltd is delighted to confirm that Guy Martin will be starting at the 57th Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 on Friday 21st and Saturday, April 22.

“Guy will compete in both the Open and the Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 feature races on board the all-new Honda Fireblade Superstock SP2 machine.”

Martin will also return to the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 a week later at the Orritor course from April 28-29, where he has been a regular starter in recent seasons at the home meeting of former team TAS Racing.

The 35-year-old was badly hurt in a crash in the Dundrod 150 Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2015 and hasn’t raced on the roads at the top level since.

In January, the sensational announcement that he had teamed up with Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness in a Neil Tuxworth-inspired deal to ride in the official Honda Racing colours shocked the motorcycling world.

Martin sat out the 2016 season and skipped the TT, concentrating instead on his hectic filming schedule as a television presenter and taking part in the notorious Tour Divide mountain bike race.

Many felt the enigmatic Grimsby man would never return to road racing, but Martin says he is more committed than he has ever been as he sets out to try and break his duck at the TT.

He is required to compete in six races in order to gain his TT licence and the Tandragee and Cookstown meetings offer him the perfect opportunity to tick some races off the list and gain some valuable set-up time with his new SP2 ’stocker.

Although his return to the Cookstown 100 has not come as a huge surprise given his regular appearances at the Co Tyrone event in the past, official confirmation that Martin will take his place on the grid at Tandragee next month is a massive boost for the North Armagh meeting, where Martin last raced in 2005.

On that occasion, in heavy rain and tricky conditions, he finished third and fifth in the Superbike races and fourth in the 600cc race on the Uel Duncan Racing machines.

At a time when Irish National road racing is facing significant challenges in terms of rising insurance and organisational costs, his appearance at both events prior to the Vauxhall International North West 200 is a timely shot in the arm for the sport.

Martin was in action for the first time on his Honda Superstock SP2 machine at Monteblanco in Spain recently, joining McGuinness at a private test.

He was absent from the official launch of the TT on Thursday in Douglas, where a raft of top names were in attendance, including 23-time winner McGuinness, Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson, Lee Johnston, Dean Harrison, Michael Rutter, Peter Hickman, Gary Johnson, Dan Kneen, Conor Cummins and Josh Brookes.

Northern Ireland’s Paul Jordan and Adam McLean – who are set to make their debuts at the event this year – also made the trip for the launch at the Villa Marina.