TT 2017: Farquhar has high hopes for island dream team

Peter Hickman on the KMR/IEG Kawasaki at Ballaugh Bridge in practice.

Peter Hickman on the KMR/IEG Kawasaki at Ballaugh Bridge in practice.

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Ryan Farquhar has high hopes for the Isle of Man TT as he fields a formidable four-man team in next Wednesday’s Bennetts Lightweight race.

The KMR team owner, who won the inaugural running of the Lightweight Supertwin race around the Mountain Course in 2012, was celebrating a big victory at the North West 200 this month after Michael Rutter claimed a coveted triumph on his Kawasaki ER6.

KMR/IEG Kawasaki team boss Ryan Farquhar with Danny Webb during TT practice.

KMR/IEG Kawasaki team boss Ryan Farquhar with Danny Webb during TT practice.

Rutter was drafted in as a replacement for South African rider Hudson Kennaugh, who withdrew from both the North West and TT.

The veteran Midlands rider had already made a commitment to ride the Italian Paton machine this year on the Isle of Man, leaving him unavailable to ride for Farquhar.

However, the Ulster team boss pulled off a coup as he secured the services of top British Superbike rider Josh Brookes, who joins Peter Hickman, Lee Johnston and Danny Webb in the KMR/IEG sponsored team.

Farquhar undoubtedly holds a strong hand, but the 41-year-old knows only too well the pitfalls associated with the TT and is taking nothing for granted.

The Dungannon man hasn’t raced since a serious accident at the North West 200 last year placed his life in jeopardy, but Farquhar decided to remain involved with the sport in 2017, even though he is still feeling the effects of his horror accident over a year ago.

“My fitness is still a big problem for me and I’m relying on people to really help me out. There’s so many people I’m grateful to for their support and they’ve all helped me to get to this stage,” he said.

“I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself but I am really excited with the line-up that I have for the TT.

“Michael rode the wheels off the bike at the North West but over the course of the whole week, I thought he rode really well on his own bikes, not just on mine.

“To come away from the North West with a first and a second is brilliant. It’s one thing to win national road races because we’ve done it for years, but there’s a lot of teams and team owners who have spent a lot of money over the years and they’ve never got a podium at the North West, never mind a win,” he added.

“It’s pretty special so if we could get a podium now at the TT it would be the icing on the cake.”

Farquhar feels Hickman’s size will be a slight disadvantage on the little 650cc twin but he says the Burton-on-Trent man can never be discounted.

“Peter is a big fella with his size and you’d think it would leave him at a slight disadvantage on a twin. I’m not saying he couldn’t win the race but when you take the size of Lee Johnston into the equation compared to him, then he’s at a bit of a disadvantage straight away. In saying that, with the talent he has you just can’t rule him out,” he said.

“I’m hoping that the bikes are good enough because it’s one thing having a fast bike with good top end, but the whole package has to be right.

“It’s to do with how fast you can get the bike around the corners that makes the difference because the class is just so competitive.

“I’m hoping that the way I have the bikes set up will make the difference. I’ve changed a few things since the North West for the TT and hopefully they will be there or thereabouts,” Farquhar added.

“Rutter will be riding one of the Patons, which is quite a bit lighter than our bikes are. Martin Jessopp is riding the new 2017 ER6 and it’s quite a bit lighter than my bikes as well. They’ve done a fantastic job with it in all fairness to them.

“We can only go and do our best but we’ve got four strong riders there. You always need a lot of luck as well at the TT and with it being a four-lap race now, it’s a long way around on those wee bikes with the hammering they get.

“I’d say for about 80 per-cent of the lap, you’re flat-out on a Supertwin so it’s hard on them.”

A quality field includes Ivan Lintin on the Dafabet Devitt RC Express Kawasaki, who has won the race for the past two years, plus NW200 winner Martin Jessopp, Dan Cooper, Gary Johnson and Michael Dunlop, who is entered on the McAdoo Kawasaki.

The Bennetts Lightweight race is scheduled for a 1.45pm start over four laps next Wednesday, June 7.