Guy Martin is on course to clinch a maiden victory as the real action starts tomorrow in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy festival.

The 24-year-old Kirmington rider has been flying all week in practice and is a serious rival to Manx legend and lap record holder John McGuinness, this year with the Louth-based HM Plant Honda team. Favourite McGuinness has set the pace on the Fireblade in Superbike practice but he and the hungry Martin, in his first season with the AIM Racing Yamaha team, are the only two to complete the improved 37.73-mile Mountain Course inside 18 minutes.

In perfect conditions on Wednesday night, eight-times winner McGuinness set the TT alight by setting an unofficial lap record.

He went into the session as holder of the official lap record of 17:42.8 seconds, which was posted at an average speed of 127.68mph in 2004, but then gunned his Fireblade to a fastest-lap time of 17:42.73 at an average speed of 127.81mph.

Martin also broke the 17-minute barrier at 126.41mph.

He also set the third-fastest Superbike time of the evening and posted the quickest Superstock circuit, although he failed to eclipse Jason Griffiths’ 18:20.87 benchmark, at an average speed of 123.382mph, on Tuesday.

The Kirmington ace and McGuinness go in all four solo races, starting with the six-lap Superbike tomorrow at 1pm, followed by the four-lap Superstock on Monday, four-lap Supersport on Wednesday and six-lap blue riband Senior on Friday, the later three all at 10.45am.

Martin was the fastest ever newcomer on his Manx debut in 2004 and last year got on the podium for the first time with third in the 226-mile Senior. He was never out of the top six in his five races.

Lincolnshire already has its place in Manx history with wins in the ‘big one’ from the legendary Freddie Frith, Rob McElnea and Roger Burnett.

And Martin is confident he can join them.

He declared: “I think I can win all four. That’s the plan, anyway, and that’s the reason I’m getting paid.

“The first year I wanted to do 120mph, last year I wanted to get on the podium and this year I am here to win.

“I know where I’m going now. They say it takes three years to learn the circuit so there’s no excuses.

“I’m riding for the Yamaha team now and I’m here to win.”

Martin said his machinery this year was ‘as good as a Yamaha could get’ and much better than the Suzuki he piloted in 2005, which he described as a ‘glorified production bike’.

He appears bang on form after a disappointing start to the season, taking a spill at Scarborough last month when riding the AIM Superstock machine for the first time.

In the North West 200 meeting in Ireland he was able to get on the 2006 Superbike Yamaha only the night before the races and it showed in his results, although he achieved a top nine in all four. County rival Steve Plater won the main race.

With new machinery, and modifications and resurfacing work on the island, Martin believes the official lap record could be broken during the next week.

He believes the 130mph barrier can be breached and that, if all goes right on the day, he could be among the first to smash through it.

“I’m feeling good and the bike’s good,” he said. “We’ve got some special Dunlop tyres and we should be spot on. I am only a few seconds off the lap record.

“There have been alterations to the track to make is faster. I think they are after a new lap record.”



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