Local riders Josh Elliott and Keith Farmer have both signed deals to contest the 2019 British Superbike Championship. Elliott has secured a deal to ride a Suzuki for OMG Racing in a continuation of his two race deal at the tail end of last season, while Farmer has been rewarded for his British Superstock Championship win with TYCO BMW with the team promoting him to the Superbike series.

Ballinamallard rider Elliott took his opportunity to impress when he was offered two races in the Superbike Championship at the tail end of the 2018 campaign, and he admits he is delighted to have now secured a longer term deal. “I am absolutely chuffed. It is something we have been working towards for a while and for it to come together and happen is awesome,” he said. “Since I won the Championship in 2015 I have been trying to get onto a superbike. I was meant to be teammates with Luke Mossey going into 2016 and that didn’t happen, but he will now be my teammate for next year so it’s funny the way things work out.”

It looked bleak for Josh’s chances of holding onto his OMG Racing Superbike seat when they announced that Luke Mossey would join 2018 rider Gino Rea in their team for next season, but a surprise late change saw Rea leave the team, with Josh taking full advantage. “Whenever they signed Luke and Gino I thought it wasn’t happening with OMG,” he admitted. “We were still working really hard to raise a budget and maybe go to another team or make OMG think about a third bike. They did want me for the Superstock class for next year but I wasn’t too keen on it and didn’t accept it straight away because we were trying to secure a Superbike ride. Obviously with Gino leaving it left the door open and I made sure I got myself in there.”

Keith Farmer was hoping that his British Superstock Championship win would be enough to secure him a Superbike ride for 2019, and TAS Racing team principal Philip Neil had assured him that if he won the 2018 series he would get him a ride for the following year. Despite the mid-season promises, Keith admits he did not think the deal was going to materialise. “I was getting a bit anxious sitting and waiting, and I had half hung up my boots in all honesty,” he revealed. “I had a really good job offer for the company I work for, Waitings Drainage. I had sort of stepped into a plant manager job within the firm and had decided there was nothing else I could do. I had done everything I could. I had won four titles but yet it still hadn’t got me a ride.

I think Philip was under a lot of pressure from other areas and was trying to keep 4 or 5 men happy around him. That is difficult to do when they all have different opinions. He wanted me on the bike but he had to go the right way about it, and that is why it took so long. I’m forever grateful that he stuck to his guns and he put me on it. Ever since Tyco and BMW joined TAS Racing they have not won a championship and for me in my first year with the team to win one, he has repaid me with a Superbike ride. I have to take my hat off to him for that. I genuinely wasn’t expecting it. I don’t think it has even sunk in yet but I’m looking forward to it.”

For Farmer it is a second attempt at the Superbike series, after a spell in the championship earlier in his career. “I was in Superbike in 2013 and part of 2014 but to be honest it was too much too soon for me,” he admitted. “It was only my third full year racing and I was on a superbike on one with the biggest team in the paddock and it was too much too soon. I expected too much of myself. I didn’t have any experience and I was a rabbit in the headlights. I just wanted to win and because I was trying too hard I was always crashing and was making myself ill with the training. I have matured as a rider. I have loads of experience and I can see the changes in myself. We all make mistakes now and again but compared to the rider I was 4 or 5 years ago I have come on leaps and bounds and

with Philip Neill and TAS Racing I have a great team around me. We have a good bunch of guys that will steer us in a good direction.”

Both riders go into the championship with little recent experience at that level, but despite their unfamiliarity they are both hoping to start racking up points from the opening race in April. “The championship is going to be very competitive next year,” admitted Josh, “If we work hard in preseason and get a good feeling on the bike, I would love to be starting off getting points in the top fifteen, and then progress into challenging in the top ten and score as high as I can in every round.”

Farmer has his hopes pinned on a top ten finish as he looks to make an immediate impact with what will be a brand new BMW. “I want to see myself inside the top ten straight away,” he said. “Obviously we will be developing and bringing the new bike forward. No matter how good the new bike is out of the crate it is still going to need set up for each individual rider. It is a completely fresh new bike and nothing at all is similar on it. I maybe sometimes expect too much of myself but I don’t see why we shouldn’t be inside the top ten and for the second half of the season we definitely want to be top six consistently, and aiming to get into the showdown. That is where we want to be. It’s going to be a difficult task but Philip from TAS Racing and BMW are putting in a massive effort to do a strong job this year, and hopefully we can put together a really good season.”