Mar-Train Racing bows out after 11 years

Mar-Train Racing's Tim and Sonya Martin pictured with Dan Kneen at the Tandragee 100 in April.
Mar-Train Racing's Tim and Sonya Martin pictured with Dan Kneen at the Tandragee 100 in April.

Mar-Train Racing team boss Tim Martin says he can reflect on 11 years in motorcycle racing with a great sense of pride after Friday’s shock announcement that the Northern Ireland outfit has withdrawn from the sport.

Martin had an offer on the table from Yamaha UK to continue as the manufacturer’s official international road racing squad for a further two seasons, but instead has opted to call time on the Lisburn-based team’s involvement after more than a decade.

From humble beginnings in the Irish Superbike Championship and selected road races, Mar-Train Racing rose to become British Supersport champions in 2013 with Stuart Easton, while Jack Kennedy and Alastair Seeley finished as runners-up in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Seeley also delivered the team’s first international roads wins at the North West 200 with a double in 2014.

Podium finishes at the TT followed with Gary Johnson and Kneen, while Dean Harrison won the Scarborough Gold Cup at Oliver’s Mount last year.

It’s a sparkling racing CV of which Martin is justifiably proud.

In a statement issued this morning, he said: “When I look back through our list of accolades I am very proud of my whole team and what we have achieved; winning the British Supersport title in 2013 was the pinnacle for me, closely followed by our North West 200 victories and Isle of Man TT podium.

“We have been lucky to work with a number of excellent riders and I would like to thank them all for their time with us. If I have to single anyone out I would have to say Stuart Easton is a class act both on and off the track and an excellent example for any young rider out there.

“We have also been lucky to have a great team around us, Cliffy and Hubert have been here throughout whilst more recently we have had Andy, Connor and Scotty. There have been others along the way too, Paul, Stuart, Martin and Alastair, all great guys who did a great job for us,” Martin added.

“Of course without funding no-one goes racing and again we have had loyal sponsors like Carryduff Tyres, John Hudson Trailers and Andover Trailers from the start and more recently R&M Greenkeepers as well as many others.

“Yamaha UK also showed a lot of commitment to us over the past two years and I would like to thank Karl Radley in particular for his input. To everyone though who has contributed to the team over the years I would like to say a massive thank you.

“Mostly though, anyone who has run a team will know how much personal investment it takes, how many sacrifices you have to make,” he continued.

“I would therefore like to save the biggest thanks of all to my girls, Sonya, Toni, Rachael and Katie’s babysitters, without whose support, none of this would have been in any way possible.”

Karl Radley of Yamaha Motor UK said he was saddened by the decision but thanked Mar-Train Racing for its role in the development of the new YZF-R1 over the past two seasons.

“We were of course very sad to learn that Tim had taken the decision to withdraw from racing, especially given the unrelenting effort the team put into taking on the challenge of turning the new R1 into a competitive road racing machine and the huge progress they had made,” he said.

“The last two years have had their fair share of ups and downs, but we knew that Tim and his team had the pedigree to take on the challenge and remain committed, which they duly did and along with various riders they delivered numerous successes for Yamaha along the way of which we are very grateful.

“We are very proud to have partnered with Mar-Train Racing and both personally and on behalf of Yamaha, I want to thank Tim and all the team for their determination and professionalism throughout the project,” he added.

“We understand and accept the reasons for his decision and we wish Tim, his family, the team staff and his business the very best of luck for the future.”

Manxman Dan Kneen joined the team for 2016 but disaster struck when the Braddan rider suffered a broken arm during a mountain bike accident prior to the North West 200.

Veteran racer Jeremy McWilliams was drafted into the team as a replacement at the North Coast road race, but Mar-Train was left without a rider for the all-important Isle of Man TT and reluctantly withdrew from the event.

Kneen made his comeback at the Southern 100 and ended the main road racing season with an excellent third place in the Superstock race at the Ulster Grand Prix.

He then spearheaded the team’s maiden visit to the Macau Grand Prix, where he finished 11th in his final outing on the Yamaha R1.