Ryan Farquhar says ‘Mullingar Missile’ Derek McGee did not ‘get the credit he deserved’ this season.
McGee clinched a hat-trick of championship titles in the Superbike, Supersport and Supertwins classes as he dominated at the smaller road race meetings.
The quiet County Westmeath man also finished as a narrow runner-up in the Irish Moto3/125GP Championship, missing out on a title quadruple by only three points to Ballymoney’s Paul Robinson as the battle went down to the wire at the East Coast Festival at Killalane in September.
However, Farquhar feels McGee’s achievements were overlooked, with some critics questioning the level of opposition he faced at the Irish Nationals after Dublin rider and road racing frontrunner Derek Sheils was absent for many of the domestic meetings.
Sheils decided to take a sabbatical from the sport following the death of William Dunlop in a crash at the Skerries 100 in July, leaving relative rookie Davey Todd and Irish regular Michael Sweeney to carry the fight to McGee.
The grids may have been missing some key names compared to recent seasons, but KMR Kawasaki team boss Farquhar said McGee’s lap times and his performance at the Isle of Man TT in particular, have underlined the level he was riding at this year.
McGee clinched a dream runner-up finish for Farquhar’s team in the Lightweight race at the TT and was only undone on the final lap by Michael Dunlop, who sealed the win on the Paton to wrap up a treble around the Mountain Course.
Farquhar told the News Letter: “At the TT this year, it was Michael’s experience that won him the race. Derek was only in his second year really and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.
“He has had a fantastic season and people have said he hasn’t had to beat anyone at the Nationals, but you only have to look at his lap times to see how fast he has been going.
“I had it for years myself, with people saying I never beat this rider or that rider. When I was racing at Cookstown at the beginning of a season, I was beating potential TT winners, but then later in the year when you would race at the likes of the Mid Antrim 150 and win four or five races, people would say, ‘sure who did you beat’.
“You can only beat whoever is in front of you and that’s what Derek has done,” he added. “He showed the level he was at when he went to the TT and the Ulster Grand Prix. Unfortunately, through no fault of his own, he got caught up in a crash at Dundrod but he had set pole by two seconds on the Supertwin and nobody got near him.
“There’s a lot more to come from Derek and I would say he’ll be well capable of getting into the top eight next year at the TT on the big bike once he starts to build that experience.”
Some riders have complained that the Italian Paton machine has a greater competitive edge over the 650cc Kawasaki, but Farquhar says he enjoys the challenge of taking on the competition in a class that holds a special place in his heart.
“I enjoy the challenge of going up against the competition, with the likes of the Paton in the class now. The Paton basically has a Kawasaki engine, but the bike is lighter than what we are restricted to with the Kawasaki,” he said.
“I’m not going to whinge about it, but it gives me motivation to try and build the best bikes that we can to meet the challenge.
“Derek is keen to go with us again next year and hopefully with a bit of financial support on board we’ll be fit to run a few bikes again and try and improve on our second places at the North West and TT.”