Ryan Farquhar: 'Governing bodies should pull together for good of motorcycle racing'

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI
Ryan Farquhar and Michael Rutter
Farquhar celebrates a 2017 North West 200 Supertwins success with KMR Kawasaki rider Michael Rutter

Ryan Farquhar says the problems facing motorcycle road racing mean that it is imperative that the sport's governing bodies on the island of Ireland should "pull together" with a common purpose.

Tensions have arisen between Motorcycling Ireland and the MCUI Ulster Centre over the Cookstown 100 potentially being staged in September.

"Road racing is in a difficult enough place without all the bickering. Everyone needs to pull together and sing from the same hymn sheet for the future of Irish racing," said Farquhar.

"The sport has been on a slippery slope for the past number of years and with the costs rising each year it is getting harder for clubs to run a race and for the likes of myself to run a team. It's getting more expensive all the time.

"I don't have the same sponsors on board that I used to have and it brings a lot of workload, stress and financial strain. I certainly foresee tough times ahead," added the KMR Racing team boss.

'Two sides to Cookstown 100 debate'

The 2020 Irish road racing season has been all but wiped out because of the coronavirus pandemic but organisers of the Cookstown 100 have provisionally rearranged their meeting for 11-12 September with safeguards in place and restricted crowd numbers of up to 2000.

Motorcycling Ireland issued a statement in May, claiming that the Cookstown club "did not have the authority or support" to run their event, adding that they were "alarmed and annoyed" by the intention to run the meeting.

The Ulster Centre responded by reiterating their plan to allow the running of the race if the easing of restrictions by the Northern Ireland Executive permitted them to and the event going ahead would not have a negative impact on the NHS.

"There are two sides to it I suppose," said Farquhar. "On one hand it would be good to see motorsport up and running again but the negative is that for the sake of one weekend you run the risk of doing road racing a lot of harm.

"At the end of the day if they get the go-ahead, the club are willing to run it, the riders are prepared to race and the spectators can attend safely then I guess they can let it go.

"Personally I don't have the sponsorship on board to do the event, or the races at Scarborough if they go ahead. I'm just running one rider - Jonny Towers - in one round, maybe two of the British Thundersport Supertwin series."

Scaling down due to financial pressures

A multiple former Irish champion, winner of more than 200 races on Irish roads and a three-time victor at the Isle of Man TT, Farquhar admits he is unsure what the future holds for his team as the extent of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on sponsorship and the sport itself remains unclear.

"A lot of my own money and resources are tied up in the bikes, the vehicles, the tools and unless I get some financial support I will not be fit to run a team to the extent I have in the past," explained the 44-year-old Dungannon man.

"As it stands the prospect of rolling up at the North West 200 with four or five bikes would not be viable, I could only go there with maybe one rider.

Peter Hickman and Ryan Farquhar
Peter Hickman is among many top riders who have ridden for Farquhar in recent years

"Some team owners are wealthy and can fund their own operation but a lot, like myself, rely on major backing and some of the sponsors who were ready to help me in 2020 may not be in a position to do so in 2021 because of the economic circumstances.

"Hopefully things will improve for next year and I'll be able to be a part of it in some shape or form.

"It would be good to see everything fall into place and have a full calendar in place to go racing again but it's all a bit uncertain.

"The Isle of Man TT is run by the Manx Government so it should be ok if they are ready to open their borders up. The North West received a grant of more than £60,000 from Causeway Coast and Glens Council but in the context of running an event of that magnitude that amount won't go a long way."

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