North West 200: On the grid with Team Farquhar
A year ago at the North West 200 everything in the Ryan Farquhar KMR Kawasaki Team was rosy, with a jubilant 1-2-3 on the inaugural supertwin podium.
Farquhar was on the top step ahead of Jeremy McWilliams, while the brilliant Michael Rutter was third.
The Dungannon rider was then closing in on 200 Irish road race victories, but on 199 the elation turned to despair for the 36-year-old, following the death of his uncle Trevor Ferguson in an accident whilst competing in the Manx Grand Prix.
Farquhar promptly announced his retirement from the sport last September.
However, with racing in his blood, his engineering skills and high profile, allied with a deep passion for bringing on up and coming road racing talent, Farquhar then announced that he would continue in the sport as a full-time team owner and preparing race machines for his team and customers seeking his services.
Of course, he had the equipment, the professional set-up and four top riders in Jamie Hamilton, Conor Behan (for Irish national races and Manx Grand Prix only), Jamie Cowton and Brian McCormack announced as his main 2013 competitors.
He had the addition of McWilliams for his second crack at the North West 200 while Michael Rutter also agreed to do the North West.
All that was required was a major sponsor as the final piece in the |jigsaw.
In stepped the 12 Northern Ireland Vauxhall Dealers with a major financial package and KMR Kawasaki powered by Vauxhall Northern Ireland Dealers was up and running.
Farquhar says: “Vauxhall have given me everything I need to put the finishing touches to the team and I look forward to a successful 2013 season.
“My time as a competitor has come to an end, but I’m busier than ever and relishing the challenge. I will have eight Vauxhall KMR Kawasakis on various grids at the Vauxhall North West 200 alongside quite a number of customer machines, so I will not be idle.
“Maybe I’ve taken on too much, especially for the North West, but despite the stress I’m enjoying getting everything prepared.”
So far this season ex-British champion Hamilton has been doing the team proud, continuing where his boss left off by winning the supertwin races at both the Cookstown and Tandragee road races.
Young Behan, in his first road race, won the junior support race at Cookstown and was sixth and third during the more demanding junior and senior support Tandragee races.
The Vauxhall North West 200 is the first of the major international road races of the season and Farquhar will be looking to see the distinctive red and white liveried Kawasakis in podium positions, particularly in the flourishing supertwin class, for which there are two races this year — one on Thursday afternoon with the second on Saturday afternoon.
McWilliams, now a World Supersport team manager for the Russian Rivamoto Honda squad, has the undoubted ability and a wealth of experience at all levels from MotoGP through BSB to Irish championships.
He also been a machine and product test rider for the likes of BMW, KTM, Ilmor, Buell and Bridgestone so he certainly warrants respect as a major contender for the supertwin races around the Triangle.
Rutter, currently the most successful rider competing at the North West, has been recovering from a broken leg suffered in pre-season testing with the TT Honda Legends Team. He competed in his 400th British Superbike race last week at Oulton Park but it remains to be seen whether he is 100 per cent fit to be a frontrunner this week.
Looking to the future, wouldn't it be great to see a Vauxhall KMR Kawasaki rider stand on the podium of the Vauxhall International North West 200.