Interview: Martin Barr – fighting through the pain

Martin Barr has had a painful few weeks after breaking his collarbone and then riding with the injury just one week later to clinch the Bridgestone Masters championship!

Barr then got the collarbone plated and amazingly, was back racing 12 days later in the MX Nationals before the Maxxis British championship last weekend.

But now the biggest race of the year is here and Barr will once again be behind the gate in Assen for his 15th consecutive year representing team Ireland – something that wasn’t looking as likely immediately after the injury!

Let’s start with the collarbone injury, it came at a pretty bad time and it was a pretty bad break – how did you manage to race or at least ride round the week after!?

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Basically it was the penultimate round of the MX Nationals and there were just three points between me and Josh Gilbert for the championship so it was a big weekend but unfortunately I went down in the first corner then coming through the pack on the first lap and went down again and landed really heavily on my left shoulder. I knew something was up but I ran to get the bike again but the bars were snapped and that was the end of that.

I walked backed to the van but as soon as I took my shirt and body armour off I could see it sticking through the skin so I knew it was broken straight away. We went to hospital, got it X-rayed and they verified it was broken and I would need an operation to get it back into place. I drove home that night and I was pretty pissed because I was so close in that championship and was leading the Bridgestone Masters championship.

All week I was thinking I can’t get to the end of the year and not have something behind my name. So I made the decision on Thursday or Friday that I was going to go and give it a shot and see how I got on. Honestly, it wasn’t a nice couple of motos just to ride round especially in race two with the braking bumps were forming I could feel the two broken bones rubbing against each other, it wasn’t a very nice feeling whatsoever. I just had to drink a can of concrete and harden the F up and get on with it to get the job done!

It all went to plan, it worked out and I managed to win the Bridgestone British Masters championship which was nice and then I drove home all night, got home at half six in the morning and following a quick shower had to get back to the hospital for half 7 to go under the knife to get my shoulder plated. It all worked out good, we got the operation down and luckily I had a weekend off before the next MX National. I was still lying second in the championship and my main goal was to try and hold onto that, which I did going 3-4 . I was quite surprised about that after not being able to ride during the week and come back from injury and an operation to be up in at the sharp end and keep second in the championship.

It was definitely a tough couple of weeks it tested my pain threshold, it has been very, very uncomfortable but we are going in the right direction now and hopefully we can have a good results at the MX of Nations this weekend.

You had a crash last weekend in the British championship but weren’t hurt, did that give you confidence in your shoulder in a way?

Yeah for sure. Again it was a first lap crash, somebody went down in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I went over the bars and landed on that side again but mentally it gave me a bit of confidence because it can take a bit of a hit. I had a fifth in race one at the weekend, race two I didn’t finish it but I still managed to finish fourth overall in the championship. So all in all, a first, second and fourth in the three championships this year basically doing by ourselves through Crescent Yamaha. I do all the driving back and forward so it hasn’t been too bad a season all things considered. Obviously there is still room for improvement but I was in the hunt the whole way through so it was quite satisfying that way.

Barr Pic: Crescent Yamaha

And your pick-up looks pretty cool that you won for winning the British Masters, that’s a nice reward as well, to have something tangible?

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Yeah it wa as nice little bonus at the end of it. I was more just looking to get the championship to have something behind my name at the end of the year but to come away with the Toyota Hilux for the year, was pretty cool as well. Fair play to the Bridgestone Masters for putting up such a good reward. I have been racing for quite a long time now and won many a championship but never received anything like that so it was pretty cool to get that on loan for a year.

It’s been a very long season doing the AX tour, the Bridgestone Masters, MX National and the British championship and now we are down to the final race of the season the MXON, so it’s one we want to go out with a bang and go and prove a lot of people wrong. I know we can do it, all three of us are riding really strong at the minute. We had a team Ireland training camp down at Magilligan last week, all three of us pushing each other on during the motos. We know where we are all at and I think we can get a solid result.

Magilligan looked pretty rough from the photos, how is your shoulder when it’s rough?

Yeah, Magilligan was in awesome shape. If we didn’t have Magilligan MX park over here we would be totally lost, it was in good shape and he kept it rough from the week before, it was perfect training for Assen. It was a really good workout and it was the first time I was able to ride during the week again from my injury, it got put through the punishment and it survived it okay. It’s still sore and all the rest of it, but I think if I can ride with it completely broken in two or three places I can ride through it and get on with the job and block it out.

You always ride pretty smooth, obviously you are trying but it doesn’t always come across because you are smooth! But riding with those injuries I think it demonstrates the amount of heart and desire you put into your racing as well, which maybe not everyone can see when you are floating around the track?

Yeah, I put my heart and soul into racing, there’s many a person if they had that happen would have dealt with it in a totally different way and put their feet up for the rest of the year and called it quits. But I’m not that type of rider, as I say I put everything into it. As the old saying goes pain is temporary and glory lasts forever, so it was nice to go and get that championship and do it the hard way, fight through the pain and get on with it instead of just rolling over and coming back next year.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

If I can ride I’ll be there, we are professional riders, sponsors want to be promoted and I try to do that the best way I can every time and every situation I’m in. I get on with it and hopefully that sticks by me for next year, I’m chatting to a few teams at the minute and they respect me for what I’ve done and gave it a shot, they know some of the younger riders now would lie down and forget about it.

Everyone knows you are quick on the bike but also the character and professionalism, that aspect must stand to you going for a ride?

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Definitely, it’s not only about results, we are role models at the end of the day for young kids. It’s how you represent yourself in day to day life, social media, you have to remember that at times. I’ve been around the game a long time, I’m not ready to hang the boots up I still have that desire and fire in my belly to go out and do my training and practicing and out 100% effort in every time and hopefully that will stand by me and I’ll be on the start line for next year.

On Assen, you have ridden the track, Stuart rode a GP there but it’s Jason’s first time, how do find the track compare to Lommel, does it differ much and will you be helping Jason adapt to it?

Yeah we are there as a team and we will help each other out as much as we can. The track, it is totally different but we are all racers and we all ride different tracks all the time, it shouldn’t take Jason too long to get into the swing of things. The way he has progressed this year on the bigger bike, he’s definitely on his game. We are there to help each other and give pointers.

I’m confident we can go and get a good results, and prove a lot of people wrong. People were saying I shouldn’t be on it and I’m too old, it’s kinda funny but them type of things drive me on even more.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Does that surprise you after how you rode at Red Bud!? You were battling Aaron Plessinger and Jago Geerts, they seem to have quite short memories.

Yeah I think so, I think a lot of people you hear these stories from, they don’t even go to the racing, they are sat behind the computer. I think it’s a bit unfair for people like that to be judging riders and saying who should be on the team and what they should be doing. But yeah, it just sums it up, it is frustrating at times, and scary what goes through people’s heads! Luckily we have Philip McCullough who is well in the know, he sees us week in and week out and who’s putting the effort and all the rest of it.

I know all three of us, if everything goes to plan and we get a bit of luck on our side, we can the job done and get a good solid result. We will see how it goes, we will all be giving 100% and that’s all we can do.