Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Ryan Farquhar back in saddle for Classic trip to Australia

Ryan Farquhar and Jeremy McWilliams will join forces again for the International Island Classic in Australia

Ryan Farquhar will make a return to racing at the International Island Classic at the end of the month in Melbourne — but only on a temporary basis.

The Dungannon man insists though that the trip Down Under will not mean a reversal of his well-publicised retirement, following the death of his uncle, Trevor Ferguson, at last year’s Manx Grand Prix.

Farquhar, who is in the middle of a week-long North West 200 road show for title sponsor Vauxhall, said: “I had made a commitment to my sponsor Roger Winfield and the organisers last year that I would be back, and with all the publicity surrounding the event and team I don’t want to let anyone down.”

“I’m not coming out of retirement and it’s not for financial gain.

“Yes I would like to do some parade laps at other events that include the TT and I’d maybe like to do some work with the newcomers at the North West, but I have no intention of returning to the pressure of full time racing.”

Farquhar will be joined in Australia by former Grand Prix star Jeremy McWilliams, looking to defend his Island Classic title, and Liverpudlian Steve Brogan in a strong British line-up on Roger Winfield’s stable of XR69 Suzukis.

McWilliams and co will take on the might of Australia at the 20th anniversary event, staged at the famous Phillip Island circuit, which has just undergone a multi-million dollar facelift.

The new track surface should make for some exciting lap times on January 26-27, with the classic machinery amazingly tripping the timing beams, just under eight seconds slower than the factory MotoGP machines.

With 49 candles to blow out in April, McWilliams has been clocking up the miles on his mountainbike in preparation for the hot and sticky conditions, as he looks to fend off the young pretenders with an eye on his crown.

“It’s certainly a great event but four races over two days in that heat, bang in the middle of summer is not going to be easy. Remember a lot of those boys are 20 years younger than me,” he said.

“I’m not sure if I can keep up the winning streak as the likes of Cameron Donald will be looking to set the place alight, and the bikes that Shawn Giles and Steve Martin will be riding are putting out around 180bhp.”

Before he started packing for Australia, McWilliams enjoyed a trip to the Isle of Man for the Joey Dunlop Foundation annual dinner dance just last weekend, and took in a few laps of the Mountain Course while he was there.

It has raised speculation that the Glengormley man may consider increasing his twilight racing years’ portfolio, from just the North West 200 in 2013, and he was candid enough in his reply.

He said: “If I’m honest. I was in two minds going over whether I could go on a mid-sized bike [Supertwin] to the Manx, but once I had a look — there’s not a hope in hell. I mean that with respect, but with the limited time I have left racing bikes it would be too dangerous for me to attempt it, and expect to run with those guys at the front.”

Although the Manx has been dropped off the bucket list, McWilliams did hint strongly that he would consider a national road race this coming season and/or the Southern 100 circuit.

“ I’ve still got bits and pieces to learn this year around the North West 200 with it’s surface changes and cambers, so that might be enough to contend with,” he said.

Add in his manager’s role with Russian World Supersport team RivaMoto; mentoring Dubliner Jack Kennedy and developing KTM’s all-new 1290 SuperDuke, the ‘old man’ of Irish motorcycling will find few weekends for his pipe and slippers just yet.

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