Kinghan already has sights set on retaining crown
Inaugural AJ Plumbing Ulster Superbike champion Gerard Kinghan of Randalstown has been rewarded with a deal with Graeme Hanna's IFS Racing Team to ride their Yamaha R1 under the management of Simon Barron and prepared by Geoffrey Barron in the defence of his crown in 2019.
It is a real shot in the arm for Kinghan, who has been racing for 15 years in both the Irish and BSB series.
Kinghan said: "Yes, I would love to still be racing at the sharp end in England, but running your own team became too costly. I enjoy racing at home as the competition is very close and the racing enjoyable.
"I am thrilled that Graeme Hanna, Simon and Geoffrey Barron, plus all my sponsors associated with the IFS Yamaha R1 Team have put their faith in me, and the aim for 2019 is to win races and retain the Ulster Superbike Championship."
Kinghan (33) had finished second, third, fourth twice and sixth three times in the Irish Superbike Championship before his winning run this season when he won 13 races out of 20 on his Kawasaki to take the revamped Ulster title by a massive 90 points.
On the first of a two-day World Superbike test at Jerez in Spain, meanwhile, four-time world champion Jonathan Rea was the fastest rider.
But, ominously for the Ulsterman, the two all-new factory Ducati V4s of rookie Alvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies were second and third fastest, with ex-Moto GP rider Bautista a third of a second slower than the updated Kawasaki and Davies half a second behind Rea.