North West 200: Farquhar fired up to end his famine
It is five years since Ryan Farquhar last won a race at the North West 200 — and he feels this could just be the day when he stands on the top step of the podium once again at what is Ireland’s premier road race.
Currently the most successful Irish road racer, the 34-year-old Dungannon man had a sensational 2009, winning sixty one races, clinched the Duke Road Race Rankings title for a record fourth time and beat the long-standing record of Joey Dunlop for the most Irish national road race wins — Farquhar now has 126 following his recent record five-timer at the Cookstown 100, the opening road race of 2010.
However, it is an international win at the North West that Farquhar will be looking for today and in particular one of the two Superbike races where he looks to break a thirteen year gap since the last Irishman, Phillip McCallen, won a Superbike race.
Farquhar has enlisted the help of the MSS Colchester Kawasaki Team who have supplied a British Superbike spec machine, which Farquhar reckons, “gives me my best shot at a Superbike win.”
“I didn’t get the bike until the last minute and I’ve had to make a few adjustments to it in practice, but I believe the bike is fast enough to win,” he said.
“It is one of my ambitions to win a Superbike race at one of the ‘big three’ international events and this is the first opportunity this year, with this machine part of the equation, to fulfil that ambition.
“I could have done with more practice time on it as with the extra brake horse power developed by a Superbike you need the chassis set correctly and I don’t think we are just there yet, so we’ll just have to give it our best shot. There are two races and we have two opportunities.”
Farquhar starts the races from fifth position on the grid alongside Conor Cummins and another local star Adrian Archibald in a race that had seen Steve Plater in pole position before the popular eight-time winner sustained a broken left arm following a high-speed crash from his HM Plant Honda during Thursday afternoon qualifying. Farquhar also starts the Supersport 600cc races from ninth on the grid while another winning opportunity could arise in the Superstock race where Farquhar qualified in second position on his KMR Kawasaki just behind the McAdoo Kawasaki of Manxman Conor Cummins (pictured).
Farquhar reckons: “My Supersport and Superstock are as good as the bikes of anybody else and it will just come down to who is in the right place at the right time.”
Three-times a winner at the North West, all in the Supersport class, Farquhar reckons there have been a few occasions that he should have added to that total stating.
“In 2003 I was leading the Superstock race on the last lap when the bike ran low on fuel coming along the coast road nearly within sight of the chequered flag and I ended up free-wheeling across the finish line in second place
Adrian Archibald just beating me with David Jefferies third,” he said. “Last year I led until Juniper Chicane on the second lap where Alastair Seeley nipped past me to lead onto the third lap.
“The rain came on and I retook the lead and was pulling away from him, but the race was red flagged and the result declared at the end of the second lap when he was leading.
“I felt at the time that race should have been restarted. So you could say I have unfinished business in the Superstocks and you would think I was due a win.”
Farquhar has had a tremendous start to the 2010 season with eight race wins at Scarborough, five at the Cookstown 100 and six on the Irish short circuit scene.
Given that his confidence is high a win could be on the cards today.
But Farquhar is the first to acknowledge that a win is not guaranteed such is the quality of the opposition and machines with any one of ten riders capable of winning what should be electrifying races today at the Relentless North West 200 in association with Blackhorse.