Ryan Farquhar was back on a race track in anger on Thursday for the first time since announcing his retirement from motorcycle racing at the Manx Grand Prix in 2012.
The KMR Kawasaki team boss put his SGS International-liveried Supertwin ER6 through its paces at Kirkistown in Co Down, where he was joined by young Cheshire road racing prospect Connor Behan.
Farquhar will make his Irish national road racing return at the Tandragee 100 at the beginning of May, but before then the experienced Dungannon man is planning a warm-up outing with Scottish favourite Keith Amor at this first Irish Superbike meeting of the season at Bishopscourt on Saturday, March 29.
Amor is also making a comeback this year and will ride in Farquhar’s colours in the Supertwin class at Tandragee before the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
Jeremy McWilliams will also be reunited with KMR Kawasaki at the North West, where the former Grand Prix star and current Rivamoto World Supersport team manager was victorious in the Supertwin class on his second appearance at the event in 2013.
Farquhar, who has entered the Supertwin class at the Spring Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, on April 13, told the News Letter: “It was a good day for it and hopefully the weather will continue like that for a while. If it stays dry then myself and Keith Amor will take a run out at the Irish Superbike meeting at Bishopscourt at the end of this month on the Supertwins.
“I had two bikes up at Kirkistown running two different specifications and I wanted to do a back-to-back test and find the best way forward. I’d quite a bit of work to do to get the bikes dialled in but I learned a fair bit,” he added.
“I needed the mileage on the bike myself because riding the Supertwin is a completely different style of riding to a Classic bike. It was the first time I’d been out on a Supertwin properly since 2012 and it felt great to be back out there on the bike with the new leathers on.
“Overall I was well pleased with my lap times today and we weren’t far off lap record pace for the class,” said Farquhar.
“The bikes felt good and I’ve been trying out a couple of new things. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
Farquhar - who has 199 national road race wins - slipped easily into race mode at Kirkistown and following a few laps in the perfect conditions the 38-year-old said there were no signs of ring-rustiness.
“It all went well for our first run out and to be honest it felt as though I was never away from racing once I did a few laps out there.
“It just all came back to me, but for me it’s not about winning this year, it’s about enjoying myself and staying out of the way of all these superstars that are out there now,” he added, with more than hint of mischief.
“Connor had his first outing on the 600 today and he was really pleased with the bike, so all in all it was very positive. I’m looking forward to Tandragee and I’ll ride the Paton there as well along with the Supertwin. I had my last ever road race win on the Paton at the Manx Grand Prix and they’ve changed a few things on it since then. There’s no better place than Tandragee to test the thing and feel how the bike is going before the Classic TT in August.”
Farquhar, meanwhile, said it now looked unlikely that former 125cc and Moto3 contender Danny Webb would join his team for the North West 200.
Webb will, however, ride the KMR Kawasaki machines on his debut at the Isle of Man TT and may yet still strike a deal that would see him line up at the North West with a British championship team.