The British Superbike Championship gets underway on Saturday with the opening round at Silverstone, and it is a step up for local riders Josh Elliott and Keith Farmer who are both making the transition from last year’s British Superstock Championship.

Farmer comes into the series as the Superstock champion five years since his last season in Superbikes, and Elliott has only a handful of Superbike appearances in previous seasons, but both riders have gained confidence from their pre-season testing.

Farmer has had a frustrating build up to the season, with the development of the TAS Racing BMW running behind schedule.

The team missed the testing session at Silverstone last weekend, but he was able to get mileage at Kirkistown and Bishopscourt, and he was happy with the performance of the bike.

“It has come together very late but the bike looks really, really good,” he said.

“We got a good feeling with it straight away and I have felt really comfortable on it. Yes it will take time to develop and get it into the area we want it, but straight out of the box the thing is on point and we didn’t really need to change much last week.

“It was just a matter of getting out and riding the bike. The team, Philip Neill and the TAS Racing team, pulled it all together. This last few weeks have been a bit stressful for them all and they have been grafting and working late nights and early mornings, but fair play to them the bikes they have produced are working really well. With everything coming together so late it leaves you unsure on how everything is going, but that will be answered this weekend.”

Josh Elliott had a brief two race outing at the end of the Superbike season last year, but this is his first full campaign and he has been happy with the performance of his OMG Racing Suzuki in testing. The final pre-season test at Silverstone ended with Elliott posting the seventh fastest time, but he admits he is not too sure how that pace will translate when the competitive action starts in earnest this weekend.

“You could surprise yourself, or you could be away off. It’s one of those,” he admitted.

“I don’t want to put a position on where I want to be, but if we keep on going the way we are we won’t be far away. We have had a good pre-season of testing and I’m feeling good about it. We have been fast wherever we have gone, and not too far away from the front guys so it’s positive so far. We have a good feeling with the bike and with a few more wee tweaks we won’t be too far away.

“We definitely have a better feeling and a better setting on the bike than when we jumped on it for the last few rounds last year. It is looking good. We have been to Spain and Portugal and then we were at Silverstone last week, so we have a good few miles on the bike, but then so has everyone else. We will just have to chip away and see where we can get to this weekend.”

The British Superbike Championship builds towards an end of season shoot-out between the top six riders, and while both local riders are outsiders in the race for those sought after positions neither have ruled out springing a surprise.

“If we can be in the battle for that top six it would be awesome,” admitted Elliott.

“To be in to that in my debut season as a rookie would be amazing but we will take what we can get from it. If we get a good feeling on the bike and get a good setting then we won’t be far away. We have been working very hard to get a full time Superbike ride and it’s nice to finally get it. If we can capitalise on that and prove what I can do it would be amazing.”

Keith Farmer is also hoping he can put himself in a position to challenge the top six at the end of the season, and he believes consistency could be the best way to force himself into the reckoning.

“What I want to achieve is top tens throughout the year,” said Keith. “I think if we can do that that could possibly bring us to a showdown spot. It’s a long way off but you never know.”

This weekend’s action marks an end to the testing and the start of the real competition. Silverstone is the venue for the opening round, and for Elliott it will be maximum attack from the moment the lights go out.

“It’s flat out and we will be pushing from the get-go,” he said.

“I have to get used to the Superbike because at certain tracks it will feel a lot different to the Superstock bike, but it’s up to me to adapt to that and get the bike at its best. It’s a long season. It’s a 12 round championship and a lot of races, but we will try to just chip away and improve the bike and improve myself. Hopefully we will get some good weather and get some points on the board and see where we end up.”