The 2015 road racing season officially roars into life on Saturday with the Ian Watson Spring Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, where a host of top international riders will be in action.
Tyco BMW’s Guy Martin is among the entries after the organising Auto 66 Club revealed that an agreement had been reached with the massively popular Lincolnshire star to provide him with a specially designated area in the paddock.
The 33-year-old, recently mooted as a possible replacement for Jeremy Clarkson as the new presenter of hit BBC show Top Gear, has an excellent record at the ‘Mount’ and won the feature Spring Cup event in 2014 as he rattled off a treble.
Martin’s skyrocketing popularity means he is mobbed by fans wherever he goes and the Auto 66 Club has taken steps to ensure the Tyco BMW rider – who will embark on his latest quest to break his Isle of Man TT duck in June – is afforded special status at the event.
A statement on the club’s official website www.auto66.com said: “It has been agreed that an area will be set aside for Guy in the paddock so that he can have a bit of peace and quiet and be able to concentrate on his racing, but fans will not be disappointed as the Auto 66 [Club] are looking into the possibility of producing an autographed souvenir for everyone with advanced tickets.
“Hopefully this will stop the pushing and shoving to get to Guy when he is trying to concentrate on the job in hand.”
Martin, though, isn’t the only leading light set to participate this weekend at the North Yorkshire venue, with Ryan Farquhar, Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston and Ivan Lintin on the grid.
Ulsterman Farquhar will make his racing return to the 1000cc class on his KMR/SGS Kawasaki ZX-10R Superstock machine and also lines up in the Supertwin class, while Bradford rider Harrison will debut the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha YZF-R1M for Tim Martin’s Lisburn team as he warms up for the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 on April 25.
Fermanagh man Johnston is also taking on a new challenge after switching to BMW machinery this year and a Triumph 675 for the Supersport class with backing from Burdens and long-term sponsor East Coast Construction.
Lintin, though, could be the fly in the ointment as the RC Express Kawasaki rider bids to follow up his sensational performance at the Gold Cup meeting in September, where the 30-year-old dominated with six wins from seven starts.
The Bardney-based racer is riding a full-blown Superbike in anger for the first time and will be optimistic of commencing his two-year deal with the RC Express Racing team on a winning note.
Welshman Ian Lougher is also entered on a Moto3 Honda in the Lightweight class with a quality line-up complemented by Gareth Keys, Michael Sweeney, Alan Bonner and Daley Mathison.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea maintained his excellent form as he topped the free practice times at Aragon in Spain on Friday by 0.145s from team-mate Tom Sykes, with Chaz Davies (Ducati) third fastest and Aprilia’s Leon Haslam, who trails Rea by 10 points in the series standings, in fifth.