Revved-up Farmer set for bumper harvest
Keith Farmer is in seventh after yesterday's opening practice sessions for the Dickies British Supersport races at Thruxton - but only half a second off the fastest time set by Dubliner Jack Kennedy around the high-speed 2.356 mile Hampshire circuit.
Farmer, from Clogher, was without a ride at the start of the season despite having finished third in the 2016 Superstock 1000 Championship on the Quay Garage Honda.
The reason was simple - Farmer just did not have the finances to 'buy' his way into a team for 2017 and all looked lost.
However unfortunately for Luke Jones, who was injured, and fortunately for Farmer, the Appleyard McAdam Yamaha Supersport team asked him to step in until Jones was fit enough to return.
A second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and a DNF in the first six races of the season enhanced his reputation and team boss Robin Appleyard took Farmer on until the end of the campaign.
Farmer relished the challenge and in the last six races he has won four, finished second last time out at Brands Hatch and had an unlucky slip off at Snetterton when leading.
Those results have taken him into the lead in the championship, 26 points clear of fellow Ulster rider Andrew Irwin as the series heads into the second half of the season.
Coming from a strong Supermoto background Farmer took to tarmac in 2008 and in 2011 he stunned many by winning the British Junior Superstock 600cc Championship and a year later clinched the British Superstock 1000cc series before signing for the PBM Kawasaki BSB team for 2013, scoring a podium at Brands Hatch GP circuit in 2014.
The 30-year-old took the ride on the outdated Fireblade Honda for 2016 and, against the more powerful and fashionable BMWs and Kawasakis, he won two races, at Oulton Park in May and Knockhill in July, to finish third in the Superstock 1000cc series.
He has certainly grabbed the lifeline thrown to him by Appleyard McAdam Yamaha with both hands and is a real championship challenger.
Yesterday behind pacesetter Kennedy, Andrew Irwin was fourth fastest, Alastair Seeley - on the Spirit Moto2 machine - sixth, Farmer seventh and David Allingham 10th, a second covering the top 10.
In Superbike, Christian Iddon on the Tyco BMW was eighth fastest with Glenn Irwin, who picked up his first Superbike podium at Thruxton a year ago, 11th on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati.
Andy Reid - in his fourth meeting on the Tyco BMW - was 21st, Michael Laverty suffering front wheel chatter with the McAms Yamaha was in 25th and Michael Dunlop in 27th spot on the Buildbase Suzuki.
It was just a year ago that Laverty took first and second places at Thruxton, his most successful BSB meeting of the 2017 season.
Double Knockhill winner Jake Dixon topped the Superbike timesheets yesterday ahead of Josh Brookes and Peter Hickman.
Josh Elliott was seventh fastest and Carl Phillips in 19th place in the dry Superstock 1000 session.
Eugene McManus was fifth and Richard Kerr 11th in Motostar with Scott Swann 11th in the standard Motostar class.
It's all shaping up for an intriguing weekend of action at Thruxton.