This win is for my mum, says NI's newest British bike champion Keith Farmer
Keith Farmer finally got across the line to be crowned 2017 British Supersport Champion after finishing fifth in the final race of the season at Brands Hatch and immediately paid an emotional tribute to his inspiration.
"That was for my mum who passed away earlier this year," the 30-year-old Clogher rider declared. "My mum was the one who encouraged me and made sure I was up in the mornings to train and get me to where I am now."
Sealing the title was also a relief for Farmer who added: "I'm just so happy to finally get the job done and a third British championship under my belt. This one has been a long time coming and I have to pay massive thanks to Robin Appleyard and the McAdam Yamaha Team for bringing me in when Luke Jones was injured pre-season and to all the sponsors for sticking with me.
"I had no ride in March until this opportunity arose and I grabbed it with both hands. Who knows, this may be a stepping stone back to Superbikes in 2018."
Farmer, who won the British Superstock 600 and Superstock 1000cc championships in successive seasons (2011 and 2012), made hard work of this Supersport title over the last three rounds. Even on Saturday, when he could have sewn it up, he dramatically crashed out on the opening lap of the sprint race with his closest title rival Andrew Irwin winning his first ever Supersport race to take the championship to the final race.
Farmer played it cool in the final 18-lap race yesterday as he stayed just behind the leading quartet of Jack Kennedy, David Allingham, Irwin and Ben Currie, who were continually swapping places; Irwin knowing he had to win the race to be in with his own chance of the title if Farmer failed to finish.
It wasn't to be with Kennedy taking his third win of the season from a rejuvenated Allingham, Irwin, Currie and a relieved Farmer, who in the end won the championship by 13 points from Irwin.
Irwin was first to congratulate Farmer and, as they performed a dual burn-out in front of the fans, the Carrickfergus rider said: "Keith won most races and the championship. I have a massive respect for him and congratulate him. It wasn't to be for me, but second in the championship is a massive step up for me and hopefully we can try again next season."
The best crowd for years at the Kent circuit saw a dramatic conclusion to the British Superbike Championship with Shayne Byrne collecting a record sixth title by finishing eighth in the third and final race of the weekend as his title rival Leon Haslam could only finish fourth in race one, won by Byrne, 10th in race two with a clutch problem, again won by Byrne, before crashing out spectacularly and sustaining a suspected broken ankle in race three. He was still able to hobble to the finish line to congratulate Byrne on his championship.
Toome's Michael Laverty had a much better weekend on the McAms Yamaha, finishing eighth in the first race yesterday, just 3/10ths behind Glenn Irwin, who used his motocross experience to great effect in race two when he went off-road at Sheene Curve, eventually finishing 13th.
Laverty was on the pace of the leading group in race two, finishing fourth behind Josh Brookes, Jason O'Halloran and his team mate James Ellison.
Tyco BMW had a good final weekend with Christian Iddon scoring two terrific second positions in the opening two Superbike races and fifth in the final outing while Josh Elliott took a well-deserved third position in the Superstock 1000cc race.
However, the day belonged to Farmer, who has been immaculate almost all season.