Ryan Farquhar has sights firmly set on a crisp return
Ryan Farquhar will make a return to Superbike action this weekend at the Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100, but the Dungannon man - who is Ireland's most successful national road racer with a fabulous double-century win tally - says the only pressure this week is getting bikes ready for his stable of KMR/SGS International Kawasaki riders.
"I'm flat out preparing bikes," was how Farquhar explained his day yesterday when I initially caught up with him.
"It's a case of too many bikes and not enough hands at this time of year," he joked from his workshop, where he is putting the final touches to six bikes for Tandragee - three for himself, two for Connor Behan and one for Jeremy McWilliams.
Farquhar, who hasn't ridden a 1000cc machine on the national scene in Ireland since 2012, said of his return: "I've never really ridden a Superbike at Tandragee but I've always been competitive on the Superstock machine against other boys on Superbikes.
"I'm going to have to make do with the Superstock bike again this weekend, as I've run out of time. It's now looking like my first run out on the Superbike will be the opening practice session at the North West 200."
Back in 2012 at Tandragee, Farquhar won the Open race on his KMR Kawasaki Superstock bike and set the fastest lap of the race en route to victory over old adversary Michael Dunlop.
He then finished second to Dunlop in a stunning feature race, with both men crossing the chequered flag astern. The KMR team owner also took the man of the meeting award that day, following additional wins in the Supertwin and Moto450 classes.
This time around, there's no Dunlop to contend with, and while he's not expecting a top step, the 39-year-old does intend to be competitive, despite having to re-familiarise himself with a 200bhp motorcycle.
"If I go to Tandragee and ride as well as I did at Phillip Island earlier this year and also how I did at Scarborough, I know I will be competitive," he explained.
"There's enough pressure working on and building bikes, so I want to go to Tandragee and enjoy myself.
"When all is said and done, and you have a good meeting with all the boys in the team, I get a good buzz, but getting to that point while preparing bikes is pressure," added Farquhar.
Having taken a sabbatical from racing and an extended break from the larger capacity classes, I asked the record-breaking road racer if the additional speeds and inherent dangers that exist in the Superbike class cause him any concerns.
"I've looked at the lap times and things haven't really moved on all that much since 2012 on the national scene," he immediately replied.
"Yes, the Supertwin lap records have been upped but the bikes have been further developed since then and I wasn't really pushed to win races. I could have gone faster if I had to."
On the Superbike classes at national level, he said: "If you look at Guy Martin, he went out at Scarborough and Cookstown and won on a Superstock bike, with quite a few Superbikes on the grid.
"So it shows how competitive a Superstock bike can be, but if I'm honest, there's no pressure on me to get results, but I'll not be there to burn fuel and waste tyres."
Speaking of adjusting himself to the extra horsepower, he added: "I went to Scarborough with no set-up whatsoever on the bike and was still competitive. Tandragee is a lot different, but with my experience around the circuit it will stick to me. So I have no worries."
Farquhar, as he explained, has prepared a Supertwin machine for former Grand Prix winner McWilliams to ride if required.
The Glengormley man has yet to make a decision on whether he will participate in the 650cc class, but will ride Paton machinery alongside Farquhar in the Classic races.
Roads close tomorrow at 3.00pm for the opening practice sessions at Tandragee.
On Race Day Saturday (May 2) roads will close at 10.00am with an eight-race programme scheduled.