Supertwin pioneer Ryan Farquhar will swamp the North West 200 grid with his KMR Kawasaki machines in May after confirming a lucrative title sponsorship package with the event’s flagship backers Vauxhall.
The Dungannon rider’s famous orange and black livery has been replaced by a new-look red and white paint scheme that reflects his tie-up with the car giant, but Farquhar conceded it was a small price to pay to secure the financial support of Northern Ireland’s 12 Vauxhall dealerships in an agreement understood to be worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Young gun Jamie Hamilton, the fastest newcomer at the Isle of Man TT last June, has been retained in the team and is joined by former British Superstock contender Connor Behan from Cheshire, who will embark on his maiden season of Irish road racing in the Junior and Senior Irish Support championships.
Last year, Farquhar - who retired from road racing following the death of his uncle, Trevor Ferguson, in a crash at the Manx Grand Prix - won the inaugural Supertwin race at the North West 200 and was joined on the rostrum by ex-Grand Prix star Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter in a stunning KMR Kawasaki 1-2-3.
It was a moment the 36-year-old rated as among his proudest achievements and although Farquhar will fulfil a managerial role at the North West in just over three months’ time, he remains no less determined to ensure his KMR Kawasaki ‘Powered by Vauxhall NI Dealerships’ team dominates both Supertwin races at the international showpiece.
Farquhar plans to run five bikes in the NW200 Supertwin races with McWilliams and Rutter - second and third respectively last year - poised to join the line-up along with 21-year-old Hamilton.
Further signings are due to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Farquhar told the News Letter: “It’s a great deal for me and it means I can run the team the way I’ve always wanted to do it.
“The plan is to go to the North West with hopefully five Supertwins, plus a Supersport bike and a Superstock bike for Jamie.
“I’ll have high profile riders at the North West and Isle of Man TT, but I’m also able to fulfil my other priority of helping young, up and coming riders and putting something back into road racing.”
At a time when the national meetings are struggling under the weight of hefty insurance bills, depleted grids and a lack of financial input, Farquhar is grateful to have an opportunity to play a key role in efforts to jump-start a revival.
“Some people would disagree with me, but if national road racing disappears it will do the internationals a lot of harm if it doesn’t finish them,” Farquhar said.
“National road racing is the grassroots and we have to keep it going to safeguard the NW200 West, TT and Ulster Grand Prix.
“It’s a new challenge for me, I’m excited by it and I’m really looking forward to it and I want to thank the Northern Ireland Vauxhall dealerships and my exisiting loyal sponsors for making this all possible.
“Jeremy [McWilliams] and Michael [Rutter] are up for the North West again and I’m talking to a few others as well,” added Farquhar.
“If it works out as I want it to I think we’re in with a massive shout of filling the podium again at the North West.
“It would be another fairy tale for me.”