Ulsterman Keith Farmer came to the Tyco BMW squad this season with plenty of pedigree as a three-time British champion [and the reigning Supersport king], but he will be the first to admit, it’s taken a little time to re-adapt to riding 1000cc machinery, despite a very warm welcome by his new team.
“It was nice to be welcomed into the team by all the Northern Irish lads and I really enjoyed getting to Spain in March to kickstart the season. It’s a serious environment when it needs to be, but it’s also good to have a laugh and working with Turk [David Turkington] you are always guaranteed that.
The craic is good within the team, and for me, that makes me more relaxed and you don’t overthink things; so yeah, so far working with the TAS boys within the Tyco BMW set-up has been very enjoyable,” he said.
Coming from the Supersport class has taken Keith a little time to reacquaint himself with the extra power on-tap, aboard TAS Racing’s immaculately prepared BMW Motorrad S1000RR Superstock machine, as he straightforwardly explained. “In the beginning I really struggled to adapt again to the bigger bike. In 2016 I was on a different make of machine in Stock1000 with a lot less horsepower; then last year I was on a ‘six-hundred’ so nothing was relevant jumping onto the BMW.”
Twelve weeks in, and with a lot of hard graft in the background, he added: “Along with Turk and my crew chief Phil McLaughlin, we have identified some areas where, let’s say, I needed to refine how I was riding the BMW, to get the best out of it.
Phil’s a straight talker and was able to identify why I’ve been struggling, and I’ll be honest enough to admit, that the way I was riding the S1000RR, was upsetting the bike and how the chassis was reacting to that.”
With four rounds under his belt in this season’s championship, which has produced three podiums and a win; with only one DNF from the opening seven races, the Clogher ace is, as we have come to expect, firmly in the running for championship honours.
He currently holds third place in the championship standings, just 18 points behind the series leader, and having tested recently at both Knockhill and Cadwell Park, the 31-year-old is fired up and ready for the summer period, beginning at Knockhill this coming weekend, where he’s enjoyed a lot of previous success.
“I really enjoy riding at Knockhill even though it’s a short lap time. You don’t get much time to rest and with the new bit of tarmac, it’s taken out some of the harsh bumps into turn one, which should help us riders,” he said, before recounting his previous honours at the Scottish venue, which included a double last year in the Supersport class.
Smiling he said: “I was awarded the Superstock win there in 2016 after Taylor Mackenzie was penalised, and ironically I passed Hutchy, on the Tyco BMW, at the last corner to grab the win.”
He continued: “I won there in 2012, which was my championship winning season in Superstock 1000, and then as you mentioned, the double last year in Supersport, so the circuit has been kind to me,” added Farmer, whose C.V also boasts a fourth-placed finish at the Fife venue as a British Superbike rookie back in 2013.
Three British titles under his belt in just seven full seasons of racing on tarmac, is a pretty impressive record, and whilst the Cumbrian based Northern Irishman will be looking to make that ‘four from eight’ in 2018 with Tyco BMW – he knows from experience, not to take anything for granted.
“We are only a third of the way into the season, but after the tests at Knockhill and Cadwell – where we did about 200 laps – the Tyco BMW feels like a completely different bike. It’s allowing me to enjoy my riding a lot more and I feel very comfortable and confident moving forward,” he said.
Speaking of the class, which is now regarded as the main support class to BSB, he explained: “The Superstock class gets stronger every year and you really need to be at the top of your game, and as I found out at Snetterton: if you make a mistake, or are forced off track in an incident – it doesn’t matter how hard you ride, the leaders are gone. That’s how tough it is,” he said, not fully taking credit for coming back from almost dead last, to finish fourth at the Norfolk venue on the Tyco BMW last time out.
Looking ahead he concluded: “You need to be on the podium almost every weekend now to keep a championship alive in any of the classes, and we haven’t been far off that. I know how good the package is with the Tyco BMW. Every team is different in how they work, but for sure I think it’s been a good solid start to the year for us. What we’ve learned this past few weeks, I couldn’t be happier going into the second part of the season, with the team and the Tyco BMW package.”