Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Ahm 'ere." Guy Martin gets out alive

I see that MCN's reporting Guy Martin's retirement. Guy's own Facebook page (Thanks for the tip, Steve!) suggests that outright 'retirement' is a bit strong, but I knew he was done at the TT even before he officially withdrew from this year's Senior.

Martin's been a pretty stalwart guy over the years, and he's bounced back from some scary crashes. But he was visibly shaken, even hours after found a false neutral and crashed his Honda at about 140 miles per hour, at Doran's Bend in this year's Superbike race.

I watched this interview and knew immediately: Guy's done.

That onboard video was also a PR nightmare for Honda. The company was already reeling from their 'A' rider's -- John McGuinness'-- similar crash and serious injury at the NW200.

The CBR1000RR SP's struggled in World Superbike and here in MotoAmerica (though Honda riders have fared somewhat better in BSB). Honda had high hopes for McGuinness at the TT, and would have used a win there to argue that the machine was, at least, a contender on real roads.

Serious TT fans questioned Honda's choice of Guy as McPint's teammate, because Guy's had relatively lackluster results on the Island in recent years (and has never won a TT). But the choice made sense from a marketing perspective because Guy's still a favorite with the punters, and a natural on TV.

Instead the bike -- which has a newfangled 'autoblip' feature -- was the culprit in two very high profile and well-documented crashes. I would not be surprised to see a chaste Honda presence on the Island next year.

That would be bad news for the TT organizers, but I'm sure they breathed a sigh of relief after the Senior, anyway, once they were certain Ian Hutchinson was going to survive a horrific crash that put a brutal end to what might've been a fairy tale ending to the fortnight.

That left leg's cringe-inducing eh? Yeah, well unfortunately, that's the 'before' picture.
Here's the 'after'. If you're a medical student, spot what's missing. (Hint: an ankle.) If there's a bright spot to it being the same leg -- and I realize I'm reaching here -- it's that Hutchy's won several recent TTs on motorcycles modified with a right-side shift.

The Hutchy story goes back to 2010. That year, he won five(!!!!!) TT races. Late in the summer-long afterglow, he lined up for a BSB Supersport support class race at Silverstone -- a modern circuit that should have been safe by comparison. But he crashed and was hit by two other riders, sustaining so much damage to his left leg that an amputation seemed inevitable. Five years and 30 operations later, he returned to the TT, won again and kept winning. Well 'ard, as they say over there.

That comeback story makes him even more popular on the Island than Guy is. He won the Superbike and Superstock races earlier in the week and if he could've ended the Fortnight by winning the Senior it would've been a feel-good story. But he crashed in the very fast 27th Milestone section -- severely, severely damaging the same leg.

Instead, surgeons had no choice but to completely remove his left ankle, and with several inches of bone MIA, he faces an excruciating recovery. I'd say, Hutchy's done, but I'm afraid he'll prove me wrong.

In a very slightly different universe, fan favorite Guy Martin would've been killed at Doran's and, a few days later, Hutchy -- arguably the TT's biggest star -- would've offed himself on the Mountain. Honestly, I don't think the event would have survived the press coverage. Or the soul-searching.

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