New PR Kawasaki rider Keith Farmer feels back to his old self as the Northern Ireland rider aims to put a disappointing debut season in the MCE British Superbike Championship well and truly behind him this year.
Farmer, who secured the National Superstock 600 and 1000 titles in consecutive seasons in 2011 and 2012 before joining Paul Bird's Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki outfit for his BSB bow last season, is already right at home in his new surroundings following an encouraging test at Cartagena in Spain earlier this month.
His maiden year in BSB in Bird's team didn't quite go to plan and Farmer's confidence took a hammering following several crashes on the ZX-10R. He missed the Showdown rounds of the championship after contracting an energy-sapping virus and was replaced by Japanese World Superbike legend Noriyuki Haga in the team as Farmer's season petered out.
However, the determined Ulsterman told Crash.Net
he is looking forward to 2014 with renewed vigour.
“I hadn't been on a bike in seventh months so it was a bit of a shock to the system at Cartagena. We went out with a completely different mindset this year and we weren't trying to prove a point in testing or set a fast time,” he said.
“We didn't have the new 17.5-inch wheels so we were using the 16.5-inch wheels from last year, which meant we couldn't use the new tyres, but our times weren't far away and when I was following some of the other guys out on the track I could see that we weren't far away.
“I got really good feedback from the bike and compared to Paul Bird's ZX-10R from last year, it seems like the chassis is a lot more softer; it suits me a lot better because there's more flex in the chassis and it's more of a forgiving bike and feels more like a Superstock bike,” he added.
“The team are great and we ended up quicker than expected and we're more than happy. We're missing the test at Almeria at the moment because of funding – we're a small team and we've got to look after the budget. We had planned to go but we didn't get the 17-inch wheels in time so we decided to leave it and wait until Donington on April 1.”
Farmer has quickly formed a good working partnership with respected crew chief Kevin Stephenson, who has worked with some of the UK's best-known riders over the past two decades.
“My crew chief, Kev Stephenson, has been great and has so much experience. He used to work with Phillip McCallen and Steve Hislop and also worked with Virgin Yamaha for ten years and Rob McElnea as well; Kev's given me a lot of confidence back for the new season,” said Farmer.
“It's slowly coming back to me and the key this year is to keep getting finishes on the board and building points through the season. There's no pressure on me this year and a happy rider is a fast rider; I'm having fun again because I ended up half a second faster at Cartagena than I was on the PBM bike last year at the same test.
“The first round isn't far away and I'm looking forward to making a solid start and taking it from there.”