For the first time in a long time, Ulsterman Martin Barr has the comfort of riding for the same team two years in a row.
This means Martin is going into 2014 calm and relaxed, with no worries in comparison to 2013, when he wasn’t sure what he was doing until January. He is riding the same bike, with the same close network of people around him from last season and they are all pushing for success in this year. That continuity is something invaluable.
Barr’s performance may have surprised some people at Hawkstone but Barr has always had that speed in his locker. His talent has never been in doubt but putting the whole package together to win a British title is something Barr has not quite done yet.
Last year for instance he got injured at the very first round and, despite a run of podiums and a moto win when he came back, Barr’s chances of championship success was already out the window.
This year though Barr believes he has all the pieces in place to do the job and even if no-one else believes, Martin and his vmxmoto.com/Malin KTM team are determined to be championship contenders.
We caught up with a relaxed but determined Barr to get his thoughts on his ride at Hawkstone and what he expects out of this year’s British championship.
MX Vice: Going into Hawkstone what were your expectations? Were you expecting to do that well or were you not worried?
Martin Barr: I wasn’t really worried, with getting injured last year I didn’t want to do anything stupid so I thought if I get a good start I will get stuck in and if not I will use my head and work my way through.
It wasn’t a championship and it didn’t really mean much but at the same time it is good get a couple of good strong races under your belt and come away with a bit of confidence to come away as the top British rider in MX2 and battle with Pocock, Van Berkel and Petrov. The bike is really good and my fitness is really good so everything is working.
MX Vice: The first race you crashed and had to work your way back through did that give you the confidence for the next race?
Martin Barr: Yeah I had just passed Sterry to move into fifth then just lost the front end. But by the time I got up I was 27th or 28th or something and I had a bit of work to do. I put my head down and worked my way through and finished ninth. It was a good ride, it was good to blow the cobwebs out because you can practice all day long but in a race situation it is totally different.
I knew I had the speed with the lap times I just needed a good start to show that and I went out and got two good starts in the next two races and got stuck in.
MX Vice: In the superfinal you were fourth and quicker than Anderson on the 450. It must feel good to be on that pace with the British guys even on a 250.
Martin Barr: Yeah it was good, I was battling with Pocock and put him under a bit of pressure and he went down so I was up into third then. Then I made a mistake with two laps to go and Van Berkel got me. But I was happy, obviously Herlings was in a world of his own and Karro on the bigger bike got away.
I was surprised with how quick Karro came up but once I watched the video there wasn’t as much of a time gap between the two starts as there used to be.
It was a good day, my fitness was really impressive and I was happy with that. I have been working hard with SINI (Sports institute of Northern Ireland) down at Jordanstown University. They have been putting me through my paces with my trainer up there.
It definitely helps being prepared and I have been getting my motos in and my dad at MB performance racing has the bike really good.
Everything has been going good and hopefully I can have a good day at Landrake. You can’t win the championship there but you can lose it so I won’t be going there to go berserk and end up like last year with a broken thumb and ruined season. I learned a lot from last year.
So hopefully I will go there and have a good day and come home with a good result and be in the hunt.
MX Vice: Have you been able to improve the bike much? You have had a year on it and your dad has had a year with the engine so is there much of a difference from last year?
Martin Barr: Definitely, it is faster and the suspension as well is improved, Planet Suspension have got it working really well. It’s a small team but we are working hard, we want to enjoy it but also get the results and I am definitely looking forward to it and trying to win that championship.
I have been training like everyone else, I have been putting the work in and know how well I am prepared so hopefully with a bit of luck I can get it this year. I have been chasing it long enough, hopefully I can get it nailed down.
MX Vice: What do you think is key to winning instead of coming say, third which you have been before. Do you think you have found that missing link?
Martin Barr: Definitely I think I am more mature now, I have been in these positions a few times. Like I said you can’t win it straight away but you can lose it. You definitely win championships on your bad days.
There are a lot of guys that are fast, there will be a lot of different race winners so it is definitely isn’t going to be easy. It’s about being consistent and being there or thereabouts every weekend, that is going to be the key factor.
MX Vice: Do you feel the ride at Hawkstone opened people’s eyes within the British paddock that you are still there knocking on the door, that it woke people up a bit to the fact you are a contender for the title?
Martin Barr: To a certain extent, obviously I’m not too sure why but I didn’t really get much of a write up or pictures or anything and it’s always the same. I’m not too sure whether it’s because I’m from Northern Ireland or what.
The British teams saw it, hopefully I have opened people’s eyes that I am a contender because I want to go out and win it. So do a lot of other people, but like I said there wasn’t a lot in the papers, not that I want the hype or anything but even in the papers there wasn’t a lot said.
My dad was telling me I am sixth or seventh favourite for the title, so there is nothing better than having a bit of fire in your belly. It’s good, I don’t mind it, I will just let my riding do the talking.
MX Vice: You were out in Spain there a few weeks ago, every time you seem to be able get away and get some good weather riding in, it really seems to help you, do you feel that has been a big benefit for you this year?
Martin Barr: Yeah I was out in Spain just after New Year for two weeks which was fantastic. I went to Barcelona in the north of Spain and it was definitely very good, I really enjoyed it. It was the right time of the season to go.
I have been down at Davy McCullough’s at Magilligan as well and that’s been good, just because it has been so rough, it is good for my bike fitness doing the motos there.
MX Vice: Are you having to work again this year or are you able to concentrate on racing full time?
Martin Barr: No I am lucky enough I am able to go at it full time this year. I am up at SINI Monday, Wednesday and Friday then the bike Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday so it has been working really well. Once the season starts hopefully things will work a bit easier financially and all the rest of it. At the end of the day it’s all I know and I want to give it a good crack.
The last couple of years I have had different team changes and injuries so I just want to win that British championship and that’s all it comes down to. I will be giving it all I can so that there are no excuses at the end of it.
MX Vice: Working with SINI at the university, how has that helped you, obviously you have done your training before but how does that differ?
Martin Barr: It’s quite a bit different, I was there last year but I wasn’t in until March so the season had already started. I have been there since November preparing for this year. The difference it has made is unbelievable; the program they have taken me through has been working brilliant.
The guys up there, Paul my trainer and Marty my physio, have been working really hard. I think opened a lot of people’s eyes at Hawkstone, I was able to do the three motos fine. It gave me a good indication of how good my fitness is. I will definitely be keeping at it. Those guys are putting the effort into me so I will definitely be putting the effort in for them.
MX Vice: Where they aware of motocross and what it took or did you have to explain to them?
Martin Barr: To an extent, they do a lot of different sports but those guys are switched on, they know their stuff. It didn’t take them long to figure it out. We went out and took videos then went back and watched it and saw what way my body was working and what muscles I was using and stuff.
It has definitely been a big eye-opener; I just wish I was there years ago! It’s a great facility and the way I used to train, this is totally different and I feel the reasons why I should be doing the things I am doing, It’s definitely good and very interesting and very beneficial for myself.
I just want to say thanks to everyone and all the sponsors that have come onboard and I just want to repay them with race wins and hopefully a couple of championships at the end of the year.
Interview: Jonathan McCready
Picture: Elliot Spencer