farmer is flying high

Keith Farmer
Keith Farmer

Keith Farmer is riding with a smile on his face again in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship with the former champion feeling right at home in the Quay Garage Racing Honda team.

Farmer, who won back-to-back British titles in the Superstock 600 and 1000 championships in 2011 and 2012, has rediscovered his best form in Ian Woollacott’s Devon-based outfit after a difficult few years.#

His ’Stock 1000 title success on Paul Bird’s Kawasaki in 2012 earned him a ride in the British Superbike Championship alongside Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne in 2013, but things didn’t quite work out for the affable Ulsterman, whose career stalled as a result.

Farmer then joined PR Kawasaki in 2014 before parting company with the team after an unsuccessful association. He was left without a ride until he joined the Tsingtao MV Agusta British Supersport squad last summer as a replacement for the injured Luke Jones.

However, the double British champion has put the difficulties of the past few seasons behind him and has found the Quay Garage Honda team to be the perfect fit, with Farmer punching above his weight on the aging Fireblade this year to put himself in the title mix with his rival BMW contenders.

He has won twice this season at Oulton Park and Knockhill and is currently in third place in the standings behind Buildbase BMW’s Taylor Mackenzie and Ian Hutchinson (Tyco BMW) with three rounds to go, starting with this weekend’s return visit to Oulton.

“We had a win at Oulton last time round and it’s not to say that we’ll do it again, but we’ll give it a good try. It was a bit hit and miss with the weather that time and I just gambled on full slicks,” Farmer said.

“Young Taylor Mackenzie went with full slicks as well but I managed to get a better start to the race whereas Taylor fell backwards and couldn’t get through the traffic, so it left me in a better position to get a gap and I just managed it from there.

“The team have made the difference this year because they put in so much effort and it’s not only about me putting everything in, they’re working so hard for me too. It’s so nice to have that and the old saying goes that a happy rider is a fast rider, and that’s exactly what I’ve found this year.”

Farmer, who is 56 points behind Mackenzie in the standings and 33 back on Hutchinson, says he gelled from the off with the Fireblade but admitted that he has already surpassed his expectations for 2016.

“I’ve gelled with the Fireblade and I think the reason why I’ve struggled in Superbikes so far is because you can’t carry massive corner speed, especially with the Kawasaki. With the Honda you have to keep on it and ride the wheels off it and I think that’s why I’ve gelled so well with it,” he said.

“Coming into 2016 with the Fireblade I didn’t expect to be running top three and have a couple of wins under my belt to be honest. To have that already with three rounds remaining is fantastic and it’s been a good year already.”

Farmer, meanwhile, says he would ideally prefer to remain in the Superstock class in 2017 and challenge for the title on the all-new Honda Fireblade before returning for another crack at BSB the following year.

“I’ve a deal with Ian that if we are to go forward, we’ll go forward together. He’s absolutely stoked with how I’ve been riding the bike and we work well together. To do what we’ve been doing on what is essentially an eight-year-old bike is just amazing and Ian is enjoying himself.”

“Obviously there’s a lot of talk about the new Fireblade coming out next year but nothing has been released officially yet. I’d love the chance to be on the new ’Blade next year but whatever happens, Ian has told me that I’ll be part of his plans are for the team in 2017.”