Jeremy McWilliams will be back in action on Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki at the Sunflower Trophy meeting this weekend.
The former Grand Prix star joins a quality line-up for the Supertwins races at Bishopscourt.
McWilliams returned to the North West 200 this year and twice finished as the runner-up on Farquhar’s 650 machine.
The 54-year-old veteran has lost none of his competitive edge and McWilliams is among the favourites for victory this weekend at the Co. Down venue, which is hosting the final Ulster Superbike Championship round of the season.
The Glengormley man will also take on a completely new challenge as he prepares to race a Moto3 machine for the first time.
“I’ve just arrived back from Portimao in Portugal and I’ll be riding a Supertwin for Ryan (Farquhar) and a Moto3,” McWilliams said.
“Ryan has been busy working away on the twins and he had some new things to test at Kirkistown today, so we can make a decision now on which bike we will ride at the Sunflower.
“It looks as though there is a good line-up for the Supertwins races so I’m looking forward to seeing how Ryan’s bikes have developed since I last rode them at the North West 200,” he added.
“I’m also riding a Moto3 bike for the first time, so that is going to be interesting.”
McWilliams will be joined this weekend by Canadian competitor Darren James, who has been a regular in the KMR Kawasaki team at the international road races in recent seasons.
Mullingar man Derek McGee, who finished as the runner-up in the Lightweight race at the Isle of Man TT this year behind Michael Dunlop, will be a non-starter as he focuses on returning to full fitness after he was injured in a crash at the Ulster Grand Prix in August.
Farquhar told the News Letter his main focus this weekend is on developing his Kawasaki machines ahead of next year’s road racing campaign.
“We’ve been developing the bike all year really and from the North West and TT, we’ve gone through two different motors and each time we’re getting a bit better stronger,” he said.
“There was no-one really close to Derek McGee on the Supertwin this year and when he was caught up in that incident at the Ulster Grand Prix, he had qualified over two seconds ahead of anyone else.
“At Killalane, Derek did five laps in practice and said the bike was flying, but we need to see what it is like in a race situation.
“Derek was still injured at Killalane and he’s not doing any more racing this season because he’s going to concentrate on getting fit for next year, so this weekend is really about development for us,” Farquhar added.
“I have three bikes there for Jeremy McWilliams to pick from at the Sunflower and it would be nice to do well, but it’s really more about getting things sorted for next year.”
Farquhar intends to follow a similar schedule in 2019 by running his KMR machines at the major international road races, although he says he has yet to make any final plans.
“We’d love to run again next year but really we need a bit more sponsorship on board,” he said.
“I have the bikes here, but it takes a lot of money to run a few bikes over the course of a year. If we can get some financial support then our intention is to be on the grid and try and improve on our second places at the North West and TT.”
An impressive entry list for the Supertwins class at Bishopscourt also includes British Superbike star Glenn Irwin, who will ride John Burrows’ B.E. Racing Kawasaki.
Aghadowey’s Eunan McGlinchey, who won the British Junior Supersport title at Brands Hatch, lines up on the McAdoo Kawasaki, while Robert Kennedy will ride a Paton under the Mark Coverdale/ILR Racing banner.
Ulster champion Gary McCoy and Denver Robb will also be aiming to have a say in the outcome, while Scotland’s Paul McClung – a double Supertwin winner two years ago – is also entered.