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Steve Martin - 2006 Rider Profile

2006 Rider Profiles

Steve Martin is, without doubt, the most underrated rider in World Superbikes and serial podium finisher of the 2004 season. It's not surprising though as, despite his abundance of road racing experience and success, the 36 year old Aussie has the most laid back attitude to life and does his utmost to keep out of the limelight..

My interest in motorbikes - all and any motorbikes - was there from a young age and after a few years of badgering my parents, they finally bought me a bike when I was ten. Nothing flash, more like a little bike with a lawnmower engine, but at the time I thought it was the best thing I ever could have had. I still couldn't really tell you what captured my imagination and interest in bikes but I'm pleased it did as I now earn a living doing exactly what I have always loved.

I started out in trials riding and won the Australian Junior Trials Championship in 1983 when I was fourteen. But as soon as I turned sixteen I got my bike licence and realised that if I took up road racing, then I wouldn't actually have to clean the bike myself!!!!

From that point I put my heart and soul into racing, taking out loan after loan whilst working to pay for it and struggled through until I was signed by the Australian Superbike Championship factory Suzuki team in 1990.

I guess I was a fairly good pupil in school, other than in our German class, as the whole class couldn't see the point in learning a language that wasn't spoken in many places, was from a tiny country - relative to Australia ! - and that was on the other side of the world! I look back now though and really wish I had learned another language as it's definitely the way forward - particularly living in Europe and travelling to so many countries.

When I left school I started an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. Whilst I saw this through and completed my training when I was nineteen, my heart was with my hobby in racing and I knew I had a passion for things more mechanical, particularly once I experienced my first road bike - a Yamaha RD250LC. During this time absolutely everything I had was going into my racing. I moved out of home when I was seventeen so was holding down a job and a home but drove around in real old bangers to make sure I had the money for racing.

Just as I concluded my apprenticeship I was offered a job to work as a spares guy in a Yamaha dealer, who also supported me with a bike for the Australian Production Championship, which is more equivalent to superstock. And that was it in my mind. Cabinet making days over, much to my Mum's frustration as she's still waiting sixteen years on for me to make some handles for the kitchen dresser I made her!

I stayed with Southern Yamaha for a few years - and by the way I was also still doing my job as a spares guy for the dealership during that time - until the end of 1989 when I won the Australian Production Championship. But I then faced a really tough challenge of totally uprooting and moving on my own to Melbourne in 1990, where I knew nobody, in order to race in the Australian Superbike Championship with the factory Suzuki team. That was the first time I'd ever experienced going racing as part of a team, rather than with a few mates, a bike and a trailer, and gave me the break I needed to progress my racing career.

In 1993 I switched to a privateer Suzuki team for a three year stint, and it was during this time that I learnt good bike set-up skills. But it looked like I was going to be out of a ride at the end of '95, so I got another job as a spares guy at Melbourne Suzuki. I started to try and convince the company owner, Bruce, into going racing, and luckily he liked racing and the idea of having his own team so that was that from 1996. I should have been a salesman! I had a lot of good results that year and it felt good also beating the factory bikes a few times!

Halfway through '97 Bruce was running out of money and an opportunity came up for me to join the Ducati Dealer team - the official Ducati team in Australia - and I ended up fifth in the championship which wasn't bad considering the mid season change over. Bruce provided me with a great opportunity that I will always be very grateful to him for and even after switching to Ducati I continued to work in his dealership until the end of the year.

If sense had prevailed then I would've been content just with my job riding for Ducati in '98, but instead I got another job alongside my racing as a rep selling Ohlins suspension - see, I said I should have been a salesman! However, the company owner, Steve, was the best employer I'd had up to that point for accommodating my racing with the time off I needed, so it was perfect for me. And I was actually leading the championship, but half way through the year at Phillip Island I high - sided exiting Honda corner and broke my left wrist and right ankle. That obviously scuppered any chance I had of the title as I missed out on a lot of points, but I pulled out everything in me in the last few rounds to achieve a creditable third in the Aussie Superbike Championship and also fourth in the production Championship.

There was no way I was going to make the same mistake again, so in '99 I stayed firmly in the seat and took the title in the first race of the last round - without doubt the highest point of my career yet! I actually only needed five points to win the championship going into that round and so the team was telling me just to take it easy and not risk anything, but my competitive rider nature to get as many points as possible and go all out got the better of me, as the last thing I wanted to creep in was complacency.

That was also the first year I had ridden a really competitive bike as a wild card entrant in the World Superbike Championship Phillip Island round. In race one I found I was able to keep pace with other front runner - riders who I had always seen as my idols - so that just made me even more hungry for that type of competitive racing action.

At the end of that year Ducati pulled out of the Aussie Superbike Championship, but made a 748 available for me to ride in the 2000 Supersport Championship. I really enjoyed that year, but having experienced the power of a superbike, I knew that that was where my heart was. In the November, I had a call out of the blue from Pirelli asking if I would like to test the Dececco 748 Ducati at Imola on Supersport treaded rubber.

Both Pirelli and I were happy with how the test went, but when they asked me where my heart was I had to be honest and say that it was in superbikes on slicks! And saying that was one of the best things I ever could have said as, unknown to me, Pirelli had the same dream, so leading me to DFX Racing in the World Superbike stage from 2001.

For my first three years with the team, I was just one of a handful of riders in the WSBK championship running on and developing the Pirelli tyres. I tried my hardest but was always going to be up against the might and experience of the other leading tyre manufacturers. This of course became a level playing field from the start of the 2004 season with all teams then running on the same Pirelli rubber, so it felt good for my efforts to be realised and have five podium finishes, three superpoles and one fastest race lap.

But now I'm really excited to be with FPR, and having had my first taste of the FP1 during testing a few weeks ago in Valencia , I'm looking forward to building on mine and the team's track successes next year.

Having read all this back, it reminds me that I haven't taken or had the easiest road in my career, but I wouldn't change it for anything as without doubt, everything I've had I've worked for and so really appreciate it.

Career Highlights;

  • 2005 World Superbike Championship with Foggy PETRONAS Racing on the PETRONAS FP1
  • 2004 7th - World Superbike Championship with DFX on a Ducati 999RS. 3 superpoles (Misano, Laguna Seca, Brands Hatch), 5 3rd place finishes (Valencia, Misano, Laguna Seca, Brands Hatch, Imola), 1 fastest lap (Magny-Cours). 22 race starts (181 points)
  • 2003 8th - World Superbike Championship with DFX on a Ducati 998. 24 race starts (139 points)
  • 2002 16th - World Superbike Championship with DFX on a Ducati 998. 23 race starts (52 points)
  • 2001 17th - World Superbike Championship with DFX on a Ducati 996. 1 fastest lap at Lausitzring. 25 race starts (47 points)
  • 2000 Competed in the Australian Supersport Championship on a Ducati 748
  • Competed in four races in the AMA Formula Extreme in the USA
  • 1999 1st - Australian Superbike Championship on a Ducati 996. Team closed at end of season 41st - World Superbike Championship as a wild card entrant at Phillip Island
  • Competed in 4 GPs on an NSR V-twin, scoring points at Phillip Island
  • 1998 3rd - Australian Superbike Championship with the factory Ducati team 4th - Australian Production Superbike Championship 36th - World Superbike Championship with Ducati as a wild card entrant at Phillip Island (6 points)
  • 1993-97 Australian Superbike Championship with a privateer Suzuki team
  • 1991 36th - World Superbike Championship with Suzuki as a wild card entrant at Phillip Island (17 points)
  • 1990-93 Australian Superbike Championship with the factory Suzuki team
  • 1988 World Superbike Championship debut as a wild card entrant at Phillip Island
  • 1984 Took up road racing once turned sixteen
  • 1983 1st - Australian Junior Trials Championship aged fifteen

    Top Two Career Moments;

  • 1. Winning the Australian Superbike Championship in 1999. I entered the last race needing just five points but I qualified on pole and won both races at Eastern Creek so I did it in style
  • 2. My first WSBK podium at Valencia in 2004. After breaking down in the first race when I was in third place, it just about made up for it when I came third in the second race in the dry