Great Britain

Guy Martin sets out to recreate Steve McQueen’s jump over barbed wire fence in The Great Escape

GUY Martin has broken bones, set land speed records and travelled the world searching for enlightenment and the perfect cuppa.

His latest stunt — screened on Sunday night at 9pm on Channel 4 — sees him attempt to recreate the most iconic motorcycling moment in movie history.

That’s right, we’re talking about Steve McQueen’s jump over a huge barbed wire fence in 1963 classic The Great Escape.

As we all know, captain Virgil Hilts (McQueen) crashes his Triumph and is captured, again.

Fast forward 56 years and I’m standing with Guy at exactly the same spot in Füssen, on the German border with Austria.

The part-time-truck-mechanic-slash-part-time-daredevil is even dressed in the same crewneck sweater and khaki pants that McQueen wore.

He tells me: “I had no real idea what I was doing at the start. None at all.

“I couldn’t say no, though. Who wouldn’t want to come to the exact spot that McQueen and Bud Ekins (McQueen’s stunt double who actually carried out the jump) to see how hard the job was back then.

“I’ve had a ride on the bike them boys used and I can tell you, I’ll have a much easier time of it on the Scrambler 1200.” We could fill every page of this paper with the conversation that followed. To say Guy is an intense character is an understatement. I’ve known him for a decade and little has changed.

There’s no flash car or entourage of hangers on. He’s driven himself here, all the way from his home in Lincolnshire, in his Ford Transit.

Guy has been training for the jump by building a replica in his garden. Every day when he got in from work he would have practice controlling a bike in the air and landing under control.

Despite a lifetime of racing, including the Isle of Man TT races, Guy had zero experience of jumping motorbikes.

With the TV cameras ready to roll, Guy throws a leg over the burbling Triumph and says: “We’ll give it our best shot, boy! That’s all we can do. What else can we do?”

With a clunk, he slips the bike into gear and takes one last look at the jump. “This bike isn’t going to jump itself, is it? I’ll be back in a bit!”

And he’s away. Make yourself a cuppa and tune in tonight.

The new bike

THE bike Guy will be jumping is a 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200.

With 250mm of suspension travel as standard, the Scrambler has the legs to soak up the landing, as well as the lungs to get Guy up to enough speed to hopefully clear the fence to freedom.

Very slightly modified from standard, including the addition of some paint that Guy applied himself, the Scrambler 1200 is a lot heavier than an MX bike, but perfect for the job in terms of being very, very cool.

You can see the very bike that Guy used in this jump at the Triumph Exhibition centre, next door to the factory where the bikes are built in Hinkley, Leics.

The old bike

THE 1961 Triumph TR6 used in the movie is worth £2.5million.

It should have been a BMW from the early 1940s but with some liberal artistic licence, it was a British machine that McQueen stole from a German soldier to make his escape. Small tweaks were made to make the Triumph look like a German army machine.

The production team were told to paint it in Army colours, but it was supposed to be in German blue/grey, rather than British Olive drab. After the movie, the bike spent years on a farm in England, before being parked in a barn and forgotten about. You can see it too at the Triumph Exhibition centre.

Unseen behind-the scenes footage of iconic motorbike jump from classic 60s film The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen

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