Northern Ireland's Mar-Train Racing team has confirmed its withdrawal from motorcycle racing after more than a decade.
The team won the British Supersport Championship with Stuart Easton in 2013 and twice finished as runners-up in the class with Dubliner Jack Kennedy (2012) and Ulsterman Alastair Seeley (2014).
After focusing on the major international road races over the past few years, the Lisburn-based outfit tasted success for the first time at the North West 200 in 2014, where Seeley bagged a double in the Supersport class.
Mar-Train Racing became Yamaha UK's official road racing team in 2015 in a two-year deal, with Dean Harrison joining the team, while Dan Kneen took over the reins this year.
The team had the option of continuing as Yamaha's official representatives at the international road races for the next two years, but team owner and heavy haulage company boss Tim Martin says the time was right to call it quits after more than a decade in the sport.
In a statement, he said: “This has been a tough decision to make, my heart is of course telling me to continue but in my head I know it is the right time for us to step down both as a team and a family. I have had numerous discussions with YMUK over the past couple of months and the package they have put together for us for the next two years is extremely tempting.
“I am sorry to have to let them down but when I consider the personal commitment required for another two years I just feel that a decade has been enough and it is time to step back. When I look back through our list of accolades I am very proud of my whole team and what we have achieved, winning the British Supersport title in 2013 was the pinnacle for me, closely followed by our North West 200 victories and Isle of Man TT podium.
“We have been lucky to work with a number of excellent riders and I would like to thank them all for their time with us. If I have to single anyone out I would have to say Stuart Easton is a class act both on and off the track and an excellent example for any young rider out there,” added Martin.
“Yamaha UK showed a lot of commitment to us over the past two years and I would like to thank Karl Radley in particular for his input. To everyone though who has contributed and became part of the team over the years I would like to say a massive thank you.
“Mostly though, anyone who has run a team will know how much personal investment it takes, how much it takes over your entire diary for the year and how many sacrifices you have to make in order to run it properly. I would therefore like to save the biggest thanks of all to my girls, Sonya, Toni and Rachael, without whose support, none of this would have been in any way possible.
“I have many excellent memories and friendships to take away with me and I will continue to be an avid supporter of motorcycle racing despite not being involved. I wish all the riders, teams and officials a safe and successful 2017.”
Karl Radley of Yamaha Motor UK said he was saddened by Martin's decision but fully respected his reasons for bowing out.
“We were of course very sad to learn that Tim had taken the decision to withdraw from racing, especially given the unrelenting effort the team put into taking on the challenge of turning the new R1 into a competitive road racing machine and the huge progress they had made.
“The last two years have had their fair share of ups and downs, but we knew that Tim and his team had the pedigree to take on the challenge and remain committed, which they duly did and along with various riders they delivered numerous successes for Yamaha along the way of which we are very grateful,” he added.
“We are very proud to have partnered with Mar-Train Racing and both personally and on behalf of Yamaha, I want to thank Tim and all the team for their determination and professionalism throughout the project.
"We understand and accept the reasons for his decision and we wish Tim, his family, the team staff and his business the very best of luck for the future.”