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The story behind Guy Martin, Triumph and that ‘Great Escape’ jump

Guy Martin and Triumph reveal the story behind one of his most audacious stunts yet - recreating 'that' famous jump from 'The Great Escape'

More details about Guy Martin’s audacious recreation of the famous motorcycle jump in ‘The Great Escape’ have been revealed ahead of its television premiere on Sunday 8 December.

Earlier this week it was confirmed road racer-turned-TV daredevil star Martin would be taking on one of his most ambitious stunts to date by attempting to recreate the jump Steve McQueen’s character Captain Virgil Hilts – aka The Cooler King – completes in his efforts to escape a German POW camp.

For a little background as to the 1963 plot, McQueen’s character has stolen a German guard’s ‘BMW’ (It’s actually a Triumph TR6 mocked up to look like a BMW) and as he is chased he clears the first barbed wire fencing. However, in the film he is fired at by the guards just as he tries to line up the second, prompting him to slide off and get caught.

Importantly, though McQueen was certainly no stranger to stunts, this particular one was considered so difficult that the film studio insisted on a double, which in this case was Bud Ekins.

Decades on it remains an enduring moment of a film that is ranked the one most men want to watch at Christmas.

Having become an ‘obsession’ for Martin, he will now not only attempt recreate the jump, but he will look to go even further by clearing BOTH barbed wire fences. Moreover, he will do it in the exact location the film was set – a field in Fussen, located on the border of Germany and Austria.

The literal gravity of this feat cannot be underestimated, not least because Martin himself admits he isn’t a jumper (whenever I climb on an off-road bike, I can smell hospital”, he joked) and the risk involved is certainly palpable. Indeed, Martin says he has spent four years planning this moment and has undertaken more than 1000 jumps in preparation, as assisted by renowned stuntman Andy Godbold.

The reason for using Triumph machinery stretches right back to McQueen, who rode a 650cc Triumph TR6 in desert racing competitions in western America. For the purpose of this stunt, Martin will ride a Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE – a machine faithful to the silhouette of the TR6 – which has been kitted with dedicated suspension fettled by Triumph chief engineer Stuart Wood.

Using two bikes for the stunt, they are finished with a green and gold colour scheme courtesy of Bud Ekins’ legendary painter, Von Dutch.

We won’t spoil the end result, but you can tune into Channel 4 on Sunday 8 December at 9pm (UK) to find out how it all goes down… don’t miss it!

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