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Barr’s back on KTM!

After a long worrying winter, Martin Barr was today finally able to announce he will be riding for the Irish based VMX KTM team in the MX2 division in the British Championships!

It has been the silent story of the off-season. Ever since Tyco by Tas Suzuki announced they weren’t running a motocross team in 2013, Martin Barr, one of the best riders in the country, has been without a ride and even a bike to practice on.

Each week you believed something would happen but each week there was no news and, as Christmas came and went it, it became increasingly unbelievable that a rider with such talent was not going to be on the line in 2013.

After the Motocross of Nations things looked great for Martin as he had just beaten Blake Baggett and Marvin Musquin, but then everything unravelled and Martin was plunged into uncertainty to such an extent that he began to question if his career was over – such are the highs and lows of motocross in the current climate.

Barr of course had a successful debut season with KTM in 2011 on the 350, he knows the company and the bikes, so the adjustment shouldn’t be too bad and combined with an extremely high level of motivation Martin is now chomping at the bit to get the 2013 season going!

He doesn’t have much time to get ready for the first round of the Arenacross championship, but the fact he is able to be there at all is of immense relief to the talented Ballyclare man.

The 25 year old is intent on taking advantage of his opportunity and going for a British title, which would be not only brilliant for Martin but also the VMX team who, after winning an MX2 Irish title in 2011 with Barr’s new teammate Michael Mahon, are really stepping up in a big way in a bid to win the British MX2 title!

We spoke with Martin just after he announced his deal and he is brimming with motivation and confidence just a couple of days prior to the start of the season!

I’m sure you are relieved to finally get a deal done!

It feels like a weight has come off my shoulders now. It has been a long time coming, and I have been working hard on it. It is just the way things are, it is hard to get answers out of people but I have a deal sorted now.

It is only a couple of days before the first round of the arenacross but I am just glad to have something in place now!

You had good results on Suzuki last year did you not have the option to stay with them in 2013?

It was an option, when myself and Kawasaki split in May, Tyco Suzuki by TAS offered me a deal and at that time they said it was for 2012 and a deal for 2013. Straight away I thought I was sorted and didn’t have to worry about a job for the following year so I could concentrate on my riding.

Come the end of the season a few other teams approached me about my plans and I told them I was staying put then, all of a sudden, October came and all the rides were gone and Suzuki decided to pull the pin on motocross and concentrate on their other stuff.

That left me in a hole again and I was kind of gutted to be honest but that’s the way it went and I was back to square one looking for a ride.

I was still in with a shout looking for the Suzuki deal to go somewhere and I was told I was at the top of their list but at the end of the day they went elsewhere, I hadn’t any money to take with me and all the rest of it so I didn’t get the ride.

I was chatting to a few people and it was just taking longer and longer. Fortunately my dad rung Graeme Vigors and asked if he would be interested in doing something for me. Thankfully Graeme jumped at the chance and he was straight on the phone to KTM UK and they were interested in doing something.  When I was with them in 2011, I had built a good relationship with them so it went from there and the last few days it has fallen into place and I am pumped to ride for vmx.com in the mx2 class.

I am so pumped to have something sorted, being so late it is going to be a tough weekend coming into round one of the Arenacross series, but I am well up for it!

Have you got to ride the bike yet?

I tried a bike a couple of weeks back, there was no talk of anything then, I just happened to get a run on one when I was out practicing and that was the last time I rode a bike – just after Christmas.

I haven’t owned a bike since the last round of the British Championship, I have only rode three times since then on one of my sponsors 250 two strokes, so I am not prepared bike wise, but physically and mentally I know I’m not far away. I am on top of my game in training, it is the best I’ve ever felt but I know it is going to be tough this weekend.

I am just picking my bike up on the way to the race so the first time I am on it will be Saturday morning in practice. I am going in blind, it’s going to be hard with settings and everyone else having time on the bikes but it will be a case of getting through this weekend with a reasonable result then I can come home, get out on the bike during the week and get some settings for my home round at the Odyssey.

Are you doing the full Arenacross series?

Yea I have signed up for the full series, so If I can get a reasonable result this weekend then try and get three good results in the final three rounds. Anything can happen and I feel if I am consistent I shouldn’t be too far away. I am really looking forward to it, I love supercross so it should be good!

What about dropping down to MX2?

I am really looking forward to it. A lot of people might say I taking the easy option out but in my eyes it is not. The MX1 is stacked with some big names but MX2 is just as hard. You have the likes of Banke-Browne, Irwin, Lenoir, Bradshaw, Swordy plus others. There will be seven or eight guys that can win races and it is not going to be easy.

I am super excited to get to ride a 250f again. There is nothing better than getting on a bike you can throw around and abuse rather than having to be a bit more respectful of the big bike. The MX2 suits my style because I am so precise with my technique it helps on the 250f to put it in the right place where you want it.

I am excited to get underway, get the laps in and get ready for when the motocross season comes in March time.

You probably aren’t as bike sharp at this stage compared to other seasons but you will be one of the favourites in MX2, is the goal to win a title this year?

Definitely, obviously people have a lot of miles on me at the minute, but I have every confidence that I can do it. My dad is back with me doing my engine tuning and being my mechanic, so I have all the confidence in the world in him. I know he will be putting me out on one of the best bikes out there and the rest is up to me and I have all the confidence in the world as well. I know I can do it and my plan is definitely to win the British Championship and the Red Bull Pro Nationals. I think if I can be consistent I won’t be far away.

My dad is really excited to be back involved and cat wait to get his hands on one of the 250 and started getting into the engine and doing what he knows he can do.

You are in an Irish team again and based back at home, will that help you this season?

You can’t beat being around family and friends all the time. I have lived in England for seven years, there are a lot more tracks over there and I will be staying there during the there for a few weeks at a time to practice on different tracks.

I have faith in myself and everybody around me, Graeme Vigors from vmx.com jumped at the chance and I have some personal sponsors that are coming on board and the ones I already have are stepping it up so without them guys I wouldn’t be able to go racing.

I have my gear deal in place, I’m using Shift gear with Fox helmets, boots and goggles it is one of the best companies out there, for them to ring me up and offer me a deal was brilliant. I was with them a few years back and I know all the guys there so it is good to be back with them.

The last couple of months have been hectic and I have thought about throwing the towel in and just forgetting about but every time I wake up in the morning, I have my hungry head on again and want to go out and show people what I can do.

You will be riding against some of the MX1 riders in the Red Bull, will you be extra motivated to race against them?

Yea definitely, maybe people are saying I should have stayed up to go out and beat those guys but the way I am looking at it is I will get to ride against them in the Red Bull Pro Nationals and if I can go out and beat them on an MX2 bike then all the better but it won’t be easy.  It is the strongest line up in both classes for a long time so it is definitely going to be exciting and I just can’t wait for the first round of both Championships.

Desertmartin should be pretty exciting  with you and Graeme Irwin battling it out in front of the home fans – is that something you have thought about?

Graeme has been riding really well and seems to have steadied himself up so yea, I can’t wait for that.  Hopefully we will both be up front at Desertmartin and the home crowd can see a local winner. Graeme goes well there and it would be nice to see a 1-2  – but hopefully I will come out on top!

We just have to wait and see but Graeme and I get on well and we will be racing against each other a lot and probably banging bars, it is definitely going to make it a lot more exciting and there will be a good atmosphere that day at Desertmartin.

The last few months must have been mentally hard for you but has it actually increased your motivation or this season?

Yes especially at the Des Nations, I put a good performance in there and I thought everything was good with Suzuki.  I had my last round of the British the week after at Little Silver and it started off really good leading the first race then I had a bike problem and had to retire, then I crashed in the second one and injured the ligaments in my shoulder so it wasn’t the way I wanted to end but I knew I had the speed and thought I could have won there.

Then the team decided to fold and I was a bit stressed, down in the dumps and a bit grumpy. I put so much work and effort into it – I had sacrificed so much to just end up in a whole with nothing. I wasn’t getting paid from May last year so it was tough from that end of things trying to survive trying to pay bills.

This year will be the same, I will just be living off prize money and bonus money and stuff which is hard to rely on because it’s motocross and anything can happen. For sure it going to be tough but hopefully everything will go well, I know I have the bike to do the job right and with the good results things should fall into place -I am up for the challenge!

Just with the way things are it is hard to get personal sponsors on board, if people do have money they are scared to spend it because they don’t know what the future holds for themselves so you can’t fault anybody for that, so it is hard for us to get sponsors in.

Does it surprise you that considering how far up you are in the British Championship, your performances at the GP races and the Nations that it took so long to get a ride? From the outside it seems you would be one of the first guys that would be chosen, not behind other guys who you have already shown you can beat.

It was very frustrating and that’s why I was close to throwing the towel in because I put so much work in to be without a ride.

Unfortunately now with the way it is a lot of teams are asking how much money you are bringing with you. I don’t have money like that, I don’t come from a rich background and I don’t think we should be paying to do our job. We are the ones out there putting our necks on the line and everything. It is just unfortunate there are a lot of people out there paying for rides, riders like myself and a lot of other people out there are in the same boat and it leaves us with nothing.

But I didn’t let it beat me and I want to go out and show a lot people that money can’t buy talent, it has motivated me but it isn’t going to be easy but I won’t be far away.

I just want to thank Graeme Vigors from VMX.com, KTM UK, my dad and mum for their support and to everybody who is involved with putting this deal together otherwise it wouldn’t be possible.  So thanks very much to everybody!

Interview by Jonathan McCready

Picture by Paul McCready

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