Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Champion Keith set for Super step up

Keith Farmer only took up short circuit racing in 2010 after a successful career in Irish and British Supermoto, but already the 25-year-old has clinched two major support titles in the high profile British Superbike paddock.

Now he is being tipped join the British Superbike mainstream ranks in 2013.

The Clogher, Co Tyrone man lifted the 600cc National Superstock title during his first full season of competition in 2011, before making the move to the Superstock class this term under the watchful eye of Cumbrian entrepreneur Paul Bird in his Rapid Solicitors’ Kawasaki team.

As a rookie in the class amongst an impressive line up of former champions, Isle of Man TT winners and international stars, Farmer was expected to trouble the thick end of the top 10 at best; any maybe even a podium at the end of the season if things worked out.

But at the end of September at Silverstone, with one race weekend to spare, Farmer was crowned 1000cc National Superstock Champion, much to the delight of his BSB team-mate and current championship leader Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne — who has mentored him this year.

“I really only learned the British circuits on my way to winning the 600cc title last year and I honestly didn’t think I had any chance of winning the Superstock title this year with so many experienced riders in it, like Steve Brogan and Jason O’Halloran,” he remarked.

After winning the opening two rounds of the series at Brands Hatch and Thruxton, his focus quickly changed, and with five additional podiums on the title-winning route, which included two more victories — popping champagne corks almost became second nature.

This weekend Keith will look to add another victory to his season long tally in the BSB finale at Brands Hatch, but the focus and press attention is already directed at 2013 and a potential Superbike ride, either with Bird or one of the other main players.

“Paul Bird wants to concentrate on his CRT team in MotoGP next year, so that may mean he doesn’t run a team in BSB," Farmer added. "But he has assured me that he will keep me under his wing, even if that means placing me with another BSB team.”

Bird has long been a major player in British Superbikes and this weekend he is odds on favourite to land the 2012 championship for the third time with Shane Byrne for whom Farmer has the utmost respect.

“Shakey has kept an eye on me this year and walked the tracks with me and been helpful and very patient,” acknowledged Farmer, who concluded by saying: “Hopefully I’ll be on a Superbike next year, but let’s get this year finished first!”