Belfast Telegraph

Aussie blues for Farquhar as he misses Island Classic

By Paul Lindsay

Record-breaking road racer Ryan Farquhar has revealed he is "bitterly disappointed" to be missing the International Island Classic in Australia next month, but also praised the team's decision to draft in British Superbike star Peter Hickman to replace him.

"It will be the first time in 10 years that I haven't been going to race in Australia," said Farquhar, whose first venture to the Island Classic was back in 2010 but previously raced at the Kings of Wanneroo in Perth alongside current World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea in 2008 and 2009.

Speaking of his replacement in the British team at the Island Classic, which is set to take place over three days starting on January 27, Farquhar - still recovering from a major crash at this year's North West 200 - said: "Peter Hickman has had a great couple of seasons, so he's a good strong addition to the team.

"It will be interesting to see how he goes."

The Dungannon ace won the overall individual prize back in 2015, which is pretty impressive going up against the likes of former Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams, who went on to take his third overall points victory 12 months ago

"I remember 2015 well," said Farquhar.

"I was tied on points with my team-mate Conor Cummins going into the last race and I knew I had to beat him to take the overall win.

"He was in front of me going onto the last lap, but I rode round the outside of him at Lukey Heights, and after that there was no way I was letting him back past me."

Hickman is one of three new faces in the British team, with MCN journalist Michael Neeves and Alex Sinclair joining the nine-strong line-up which also features Jeremy McWilliams, Conor Cummins, John McGuinness, Glen Richards, Keith Higgs and James Hillier.

Riding one of six Harris Yamahas, which will be supplied by Roger Winfield, Hickman said of his upcoming adventure Down Under: "I've never ridden with the likes of Jeremy McWilliams before, so I'm looking forward to that and obviously beating the Aussies."

Winfield, who provides the machinery and important back-up crew, is very much an invaluable member of the British team, as Farquhar was keen to explain.

"I've quite a bit of racing history with Roger, who wanted me to go along as a mechanic, but I'm just not fit to do anything and I didn't want to waste a ticket," said Farquhar, who has tasted the spoils of victory on a number of occasions aboard Winfield-prepared classic machinery, both in Australia and the Isle of Man.

"The organisers do provide great support, but I'd say Roger is funding close to 90 per cent of it himself. Taking six bikes, especially classic bikes, is hard work, and if you experience a problem on the other side of the world, it's big hassle."

Farquhar also hinted that it may well be Winfield's final year at the event - which would be a major blow for the British team - when he said: "He's a pensioner now and the bikes take some thrashing out there; it's a lot of hard work and no walk in the park."

The International Challenge races are reserved for machines built between 1973 and 1984, and with strong teams from Ireland, New Zealand and America also set to be on the grid, it's shaping up to be another fantastic event at Phillip Island next month.

Looking ahead to 2017 and the potential plans for his KMR Team, Farquhar concluded: "I'll not be making any decisions on riders or events this side of Christmas.

"The BMW is sitting ready and I'll maybe run two Supertwins, but I'll wait and assess things early in the New Year."

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