Super Martin has formula
HE isn’t the Stig, but he has met him.
For those of you familiar with Top Gear’s gun driver, you might also be aware of a Central Queensland lad who’s making his mark in European motorsport.
Blackwater’s John Martin recently won round seven of the Super League series at Brands Hatch, and is proving more than a match for former Formula One drivers in the class.
Driving for Alan Docking Racing in the Beijing Guoan FC V12, Martin pulled off the win in the five-lap superdash after a first and 16th in race one and two.
The prize: 100,000 Euros, and a big smile.
“It’s probably the most competitive championship outside of Formula One at the moment,” Martin said.
“That (the prizemoney) helps out a lot, and goes to the cost of running the car, because it’s not cheap.”
The 26-year-old is back in Central Queensland for a few weeks with his girlfriend Sharann Paine, who hails from Gladstone; an escape from the English ‘summer’.
From a young age, he was glued to the TV watching V8s, Formula One, and Indy Cars.
“I started in Speedway at 12 in Bundaberg of a couple of years,” he said.
In 1998, it was time for a change and go-karts took his fancy.
“I went to the first ever meeting and thought, ‘That looks pretty easy’,” he said.
“Four wheels and a steering wheel, how hard can that be? But I was wrong.”
In time, he was racing at national level in karting and secured several state titles, and also competed in the CIK series.
Formula Ford beckoned, the standard path for guys wanting to take the next step up, and Martin snared the Victorian title and second in NSW.
“In 2006 I won the Australian Formula Ford Championship with the rising star program,” he said.
“I went to the AIS and learnt quite a lot about training, you can’t just sit around and eat meat pies and drink Coke.”
During 2006, he raced Formula Ford several times in England and won the round on debut at Brands Hatch.
“That was pretty special,” he said.
The Australian Motsorsport Foundation put a substantial amount of money behind Martin, as one of its rising stars to get to England, and he made the shift in 2007.
After a year of struggle, he found himself in a team co-owned by former Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen.
“He’s a proper cool dude, and not like you see on TV,” Martin said.
Racing A1GP in 2008-9, Martin was having a good series until bad luck struck—mechanical problems, a car catching fire, bout of food poisoning. And he was looking forward to tearing it up on Aussie soil.
“We were meant to race at the Gold Coast before that fell through,” he said.
And although he hasn’t quite made it yet, a phone call from Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber is a fair sign his talent has been noticed.
“I thought it was one of my mates having me on, but it was actually Mark Webber ringing to congratulate us (for winning the Australian Formula Ford Championship),” Martin laughed.
“He’s a really top guy, I hope he wins the championship this year, because he is probably the hardest working guy in Formula One, and no one is more deserving.”
As for Martin’s Formula One aspiration, it’s within sight but just out of reach at present.
“You have to be in the right place, right time with the right people,” he said.
“It’s always been the goal ... it’s why I’m in England,” he added.