Farmer out to wrap up a hat-trick of British titles
It's crunch time as Brands Hatch hosts the final round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike and Supersport Championships today and tomorrow.
Local interest centres on the Supersport Championship with Clogher rider Keith Farmer going into this afternoon's sprint race and tomorrow's feature event favourite to land his third British title, having won the Superstock 600cc series in 2011 and the Superstock 1000 class a year later.
Farmer - riding the McAdam Appleyard Yamaha - has a 43-point lead over Carrickfergus rider Andrew Irwin, who rides for the Gearlink Kawasaki Team.
And with just 50 points remaining, Farmer is the clear favourite although his last four races have certainly tested his resolve.
He finished third in race one at Oulton Park before crashing out of the lead in race two. Then, at Assen, he crashed out of the Saturday sprint race on the first lap and race two brought more heartache when, after a tough battle with Gearlink Kawasaki duo Ben Currie and Irwin, he took the chequered flag first -which would have given him the title - but was hit with a one-minute penalty after colliding with Currie, sending him back to 19th position.
Irwin's aim is simple - he must win the two races and hope Farmer finishes outside the points in both. Farmer requires only eight points in race one (eighth position) for the trophy to head to Clogher.
In free practice yesterday, Farmer finished in fourth position behind Dubliner Jack Kennedy, title rival Irwin and Currie with less than half a second covering the four of them.
In fact, a second covered the top 10 with Alastair Seeley 10th on the Spirit Moto2 machine.
Farmer said: "Things haven't gone well in the last two rounds for us, but we approach Brands like any other race and that is to do my best for the team and the Championship will look after itself."
It looks a tall order for Irwin as he is still looking for his first victory in the series while Farmer has notched up nine wins since joining his team as a stand-in rider for the injured Luke Jones at the start of the season.
In the British Superbike Championship chase, Leon Haslam takes a 32-point lead into the final three races this weekend with Josh Brookes and defending champion Shane Byrne separated by a single point in second and third.
Chasing his fifth Championship, Byrne commented: "Leon is in the driving seat, but everyone knows how I love the Grand Prix circuit here at Brands and I want to defend the title.
"I can still win the three races but anything can still happen and if it does, suddenly its wide open again."
Byrne led the way after free practice yesterday a tenth of a second ahead of surprise packet Michael Laverty, with Haslam a further tenth back in third.
Glenn Irwin was 10th fastest, just half a second off the provisional pole position, while Tyco BMW's Christian Iddon was fifth fastest.
In the Superstock 1000, Eugene McManus was third fastest on his Motostar with Richard Kerr 10th and Josh Elliott eighth fastest. Carl Phillips was 15th.
• Andrea Dovizioso ended a very wet day one of the Japanese Grand Prix on provisional pole position, a mere 0.043seconds ahead of MotoGP Championship leader Marc Marquez, who crashed in the afternoon session.
Cal Crutchlow then collided with Jorge Lorenzo in another crash, both escaping uninjured.
Final qualifying was in the early hours of this morning and the race is in the early hours of tomorrow morning.