Clogher’s Keith Farmer earned plenty of plaudits this year as the former two-time British champion punched above his weight in the National Superstock 1000 Championship.
Farmer finished third overall in the final standings behind Taylor Mackenzie and Ian Hutchinson, winning twice at Oulton Park and Knockhill on the ageing Honda Fireblade.
The Ulster rider, who won the Superstock 600 and 1000 titles in consecutive seasons in 2011 and 2012, was as much as 25bhp down on the top BMW machines in the championship on the Quay Garage Honda, but Farmer was regularly ruffling the feathers of eventual champion Mackenzie (Buildbase BMW) and runner-up Hutchison (Tyco BMW).
The 30-year-old rediscovered his old swagger this year and Farmer is confident he can challenge for a third British crown in 2017.
His plans have yet to be finalised, but the ex-Supermoto champion is hopeful he will remain in Ian Woollacott’s team for 2017 with official backing from Honda on the all-new Fireblade.
“Things are still up in the air a bit for next year but the best scenario would be to ride the new Fireblade through Quay Garage Racing with full backing from Honda,” said Farmer, who celebrated the birth of a baby girl with partner Sam at the weekend.
“I’d like to try and build on this season and really go for the Superstock title next year. Things keep changing with regards to next year but it’s looking fairly likely that I’ll be staying where I am at in Ian’s team.
“It may even be that another rider comes on board with us for 2017, but the fact that we did such a good job on the old Fireblade this season should hopefully stand us in good stead,” he added.
“I knew it was going to be a tough year because no class is easy in the British championship. We were about 25bhp down on everyone else with the ’Blade and I knew the chassis was very good, but it doesn’t bridge the gap for the lack of horsepower.
“But we did a good job and I took a lot of confidence from how I rode this season. I had three crashes all year, with all three of them coming at Brands Hatch.
“After how hard I rode this year and the effort we put in as a team, I’m hoping we’ll get the support we deserve for next year but at the moment, I just don’t know when we will finally have our plans in place.”
Farmer’s ultimate target is to secure a move back to the British Superbike Championship and he hopes another strong year in the Superstock class will pave the way for a return to BSB in 2018.
“I’m really pleased with how things went this year and even hearing other riders like Taylor Mackenzie praising my riding this season was nice,” he said.
“They all knew how much we were losing on horsepower this year and Mackenzie even said he was glad I wasn’t riding a BMW!
“Next year, the goal is to try and win the Superstock title and then move up to Superbikes with Honda the following year.
“I’m buzzing to come away with a top three in the championship this year and finish ahead of last year’s champion [Josh Elliott].
“I just can’t wait for next year and I’ve a new trainer who is really putting me through my paces every morning from 6am to 7am before I start work,” Farmer added.
“All I need now is for our plans to be finalised and hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we know one way or the other what kind of support we will have.”