Based in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, the KMR Kawasaki Racing Team was launched in 2009 by Ryan Farquhar with the aim of competing at International and National road race meetings. Prior to the team’s inception, Farquhar had enjoyed one of his most successful seasons in 2008, when he won both the Irish Superbike and Supersport Road Race Championships. He’d also finished top of the Duke Road Race Rankings whilst also impressing greatly at the Isle of Man TT with no less than five top six finishes from his five rides.
The new season got underway when Ryan retained the Ian Watson Trophy at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough and success followed at the opening Irish National road races with a hat-trick at the Cookstown 100 and a double at the following weekend’s Tandragee 100.
Another International podium was taken at the North West 200 with second in the Superstock race before Ryan took an astonishing 18 wins from 18 starts at the Barry Sheen Classic Festival at Scarborough! The TT only yielded a best finish of sixth but he was back to winning ways at his local Bush event with a four timer and another hat-trick followed at Athea.
Further success came at Skerries with a win and three seconds before Ryan enjoyed one of his best ever weeks at the Southern 100 with four wins and a close second in the feature Solo Championship. Indeed, there was no let up in the wins with four more coming at Kells and then the same number again at Faugheen and the Mid Antrim 150! The newly introduced Armoyroad races gave Ryan a hat-trick before he claimed a brilliant Man of the Meeting at the Ulster GP after taking two wins and two seconds.
A double victory was taken at the Manx Grand Prix with wins in the Post Classic and 500cc Classic events, the latter seeing him become the first ever rider to lap the TT circuit at over 110mph on a Classic bike.
History was made in September the following month when Ryan surpassed Joey Dunlop’s total of 118 Irish National road race wins, by taking a clean-sweep at Killalane and by the end of the year, he’d attained three more than the total set by Dunlop, moving onto a total of 121.
In total, 2009 saw Ryan chalk up a staggering 61 race wins and take 6 National championships in what was a truly remarkable season, one that will go down in the record books as one of the best ever years, in any discipline, by any rider. At the Irish Racer Magazine awards ceremony in Belfast, Ryan picked up both the National Road Racer of the Year and Team of the Year awards and also received the highly prestigious Duke Road Race Rankings trophy, given to the rider who records the highest number of points over the 25 road races held in the British Isles during the course of the year, for the third time.
In the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year category, Ryan took third place behind Eugene Laverty, who won the trophy, and Jonathan Rea. However further plaudits awaited Farquhar, which saw him beat both Laverty and Rea when he was voted the NGK Enkalon Irish Motorcyclist of the Year, by the general public.
For the 2010 racing season, Ryan joined forces with the MSS Colchester Kawasaki Racing Team for his Superbike campaign at the International road races whilst he continued with his own KMR Kawasaki machinery in the Supersport and Superstock divisions which were again styled in their familiar black and orange livery.
The season started in superb style with a 100% record at Oliver’s Mount (8 wins plus the Ian Watson Trophy) and Cookstown (5 wins) before another International podium was taken at the North West 200 with third in the Superstock race. This led on to the TT where Ryan’s fine form continued with two second place finishes, in the Superstock and Senior TTs, recording his fastest ever lap of the Mountain Course in the former with a lap of 129.883mph. He missed out on the Superstock win by an agonizing 1.32s.
The season continued when he claimed the annual Southern 100 Championship title on the Isle of Man for the second time along with a staggering nine wins and the feature Trophy at the Cock o’ the North event at Oliver’s Mount.
Success at home was non-stop with multiple wins taken at the Skerries 100 (2), Mid Antrim 150 (5), Armoy (4), Munster (4) and Killalane (3) whilst the Ulster GP yielded two more International race victories. The final meeting at Scarborough, the International Gold Cup, saw Ryan grab three wins along with the outright circuit lap record, the first (and only) rider to dip below the 1m45s bracket.
Ryan’s tremendous year ended with more success, when he took two wins at the annual Sunflower Trophy races at Bishopscourt. It meant he ended the year with a combined total of 60 race wins from his road racing and short circuit exploits. These cumulative endeavours resulted in Ryan receiving the 2010 Irish Road Racer of the Year Award once more.
2011 saw Ryan sign both fellow Irishman Adrian Archibald, and Hungarian Sandor Bitter to ride for the KMR Kawasaki squad. The move saw Archibald ride an ER6 650cc Kawasaki Supertwin whilst Bitter was signed to ride a Superstock-spec Kawasaki ZX-10R at the three International road races – the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix – in the Superbike and Superstock races.
Ryan got his 2011 road racing season underway in perfect style when he dominated the Ian Watson Trophy races at Oliver’s Mount winning all 7 races that he started including the feature trophy race for the fourth consecutive year. This was followed up by a dominant performance at the Cookstown 100, winning all of his five races and the winning run continued with a double victory at the Tandragee 100.
After disappointment at the North West 200, bad luck then accompanied Ryan to the TT where a crash at Keppel Gate in the final practice session when he hit a false neutral on his Superbike machine – identical to what happened to Cameron Donald in 2009 – initially ruled him out of the racing programme However, despite being extremely battered and bruised, he took a brave 13th in Friday’s Senior race.
July saw Ryan back in action on the Isle of Man with some strong results at the Southern 100 road races. Taking the wins in both of the Supertwins races, he backed this up with 3rd in the main Solo Championship race whilst the Manx Grand Prix in August saw him become only the second rider ever to take a hat-trick of wins during race week. The National scene in Ireland saw wins aplenty at Bush (5), Armoy (2) and Killalane.
The conclusion of his 2011 road racing season saw Ryan win all seven of his races at the International Gold Cup at Oliver’s Mount, the highlight of which was getting his name on the feature trophy for the very first time. It was also the first time an Irishman had won the Gold Cup in its 60-year history and Ryan also added the David Jefferies, Darran Lindsay and Phil Mellor trophies to his haul of silverware.
The season ended on another high note for KMR Kawasaki with a dominant display at Bishopscourt when they took the honours in the two Supertwin races at the annual Sunflower Trophy meeting. With Jeremy McWilliams and Jamie Hamilton joining Farquhar on the ER6 650cc machines, the trio completed a 1-2-3 in both races as Hamilton and McWilliams took the race wins.
For the 2012 season, KMR Kawasaki signed Michael Rutter to ride in the Lightweight races at the Isle of Man TT Races and North West 200 whilst Ryan also had the added satisfaction of landing the signature of veteran rider Jeremy McWilliams for the North West 200. The signing of both riders was seen as a terrific coup for the team with Hamilton joining the squad for a full season of International and National road racing and Conor Parkhill the short circuits.
Ryan opened his 2012 account at Bishopscourt where he won both Supertwin races with Hamilton and Parkhill joining him on the podium and the success continued at the Cookstown 100 with a four timer. Farquhar was again in commanding form at the Tandragee 100 a week later, taking a hat-trick of race wins and the Man of the Meeting award whilst five wins and the retaining of the Ian Watson trophy was the outcome at Oliver’s Mount.
The first International road race of the season, the North West 200, saw Ryan have his “proudest moment in racing,” when the three podium places at the inaugural Supertwins race all went to riders astride KMR Kawasaki Racing machinery, led home by Ryan himself with McWilliams second and Rutter third.
Onto the TT and after initial disappointment with both Ryan and Hamilton retiring from the Superbike race, team boss Farquhar responded with a brilliant third behind John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop in the Superstock race, only an oil leak preventing him from challenging for the race win all the way through the four laps.
Another third place followed in the second Supersport race and the week ended with KMR Kawasaki competing in the re-introduced Lightweight TT race. Farquhar overcame a strong challenge from James Hillier to eventually take the win by almost 30 seconds for the third TT victory of his career and 13th podium. There was further joy for the team with Rutter taking third place, along with the lap record, and Hamilton claiming tenth and the Newcomers Trophy.
Success continued in the following two months with Ryan dominating the Mid-Antrim (five wins), Bush (five wins) and Skerries (four wins) road races before Hamilton grabbed his first ever road race win for KMR Kawasaki at the Southern 100.
The Manx Grand Prix in August saw Ryan claim his tenth win with another victory on the Paton in the 500cc Classic Race before Nigel Moore gave the team a superb win in the Lightweight race on one of the Supertwin machines. However, joy turned to sadness when Ryan’s uncle, Trevor Ferguson, crashed out of second place in the same race and succumbed to his injuries, which led to Ryan announcing his retirement from the sport with immediate effect.
Later in the year, and in recognition of his tremendous achievements, Ryan was again handed the top prize of Irish Motorcyclist of the Year whilst he also collected the Geoff Duke Trophy for winning the 2012 Duke Road Race Rankings series – the seventh time he had won the title, and the fifth time in a row. There was another honour for the Dungannon rider when Kawasaki handed him a special award for his long years of loyalty to the manufacturer.
Despite Ryan retiring from racing, the KMR Kawasaki team will have a greater presence in 2013, after confirming a lucrative title sponsorship package with Vauxhall. The famous orange and black livery has been replaced by a new-look red and white paint scheme that reflects the tie-up with the car giant, with the financial support coming from Northern Ireland’s 12 Vauxhall dealerships.
With Ryan managing the squad, young gun Jamie Hamilton has been retained and is joined by former Irish Superbike Champion Brian McCormack and ex-British Superstock contender Connor Behan from Cheshire, who will embark on his maiden season of Irish road racing in the Junior and Senior Irish Support championships.
Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter will again ensure the team have a great chance of the race wins at the North West 200 whilst Rutter will also compete in the Lightweight TT once more.
James Cowton, winner of the 2012 400cc Newcomers Manx Grand Prix, will also campaign a Supertwin machine at various events during the course of the season whilst Ross Richards will ride one of the 650cc Kawasakis at the Manx Grand Prix and Scarborough Gold Cup.