KMR Kawasaki may have seen their chances of success in the Isle of Man Lightweight TT race reduced from four riders to two but both Peter Hickman and Josh Brookes put in superb performances to finish third and sixth respectively in Wednesday's four-lap race.
Crashes on other machinery during practice week had ruled out both Lee Johnston and Danny Webb which left Hickman and 2015 British Superbike Champion Brookes to fly the flag and despite a distinct lack of track time on the white KMR/IEG Kawasaki’s, the duo placed third and eighth on the practice leaderboard.
With three podiums from his first races, Hickman was carrying the team’s main hopes and an opening lap of 117.696mph put him in a strong fifth place. With an even quicker lap second time around, 119.151mph, he moved up fourth and was just three seconds behind 2015 and 2016 winner Ivan Lintin.
The latter experienced trouble at the pit stop when he had to change helmets and Peter seized his opportunity, moving up to third by the time the riders reached Glen Helen for the third time. With an advantage of almost twenty seconds, it wasn’t a gap he was about to relinquish and with another 118mph+ lap on the final lap, he duly brought the bike home for third place, much to the delight of team owner and three-times TT winner Ryan Farquhar.
Brookes, meanwhile, was having his first experience of a Lightweight machine having had a career spent mostly on Superbike and Supersport bikes, whilst returning to the TT for the first time since 2014 meant he was also having to dial himself back in gradually to the rigours of the Mountain Course.
Nevertheless, the Australian acquitted himself superbly despite only having had three laps on the bike during practice week. His first lap, 114.715mph, saw him slot into tenth but from that moment on, he got quicker and quicker to move up the leaderboard. His second lap of 116.482mph saw him move up to eighth but he saved the best until last and with a final lap of 119.064mph, he brought the bike home for an excellent sixth place, the best result in his short TT career.
Peter Hickman said: “We changed the bike completely before the race – different engine, different forks, different gearing, everything – but it ran perfectly so full credit to KMR Kawasaki for doing a great job. I was a bit steady on the first lap and when Stefano Bonetti came by me, it affected my rhythm a bit as his bike was faster in a straight line but I was quicker through the corners. I got by him again and got my head down so to finish third and take my fourth podium of the week is brilliant. A big thanks to Ryan and the team for all their hard work and also to Alan and Rebecca Smith for letting me ride the bike.”
Josh Brookes said: “It’s taken me a while to get dialled back into the Mountain Course and the lack of track time in practice hit me harder than most so it wasn’t until the final session that I got out on the KMR Kawasaki. The Lightweight bike requires a different technique to the bikes I’m used to riding and with it being a last minute deal riding for Ryan, I didn’t get much time on the bike but we moved forward all the time. I’ve really enjoyed working with Ryan and he gave me a great bike so it’s really good to pay him back with a good result.”
Ryan Farquhar, Team Owner commented: “It was obviously a great shame to have Lee and Danny ruled out after injuries sustained during practice week but I’m absolutely over the moon with the results today. Peter jumped on the bike and after not much practice, we made a lot of changes prior to the race which paid off and a podium is brilliant. Josh didn’t have much time either so to lap at 119mph and finish sixth is superb so a big thanks to both riders, I can’t praise them enough. After a great North West 200, it’s brilliant to have such great results here at the TT so a massive thank you to all the team for all their hard work and also to my loyal sponsors for their continued support.”
Photo - A delighted Ryan and Karen Farquhar celebrate with Peter Hickman. Courtesy of Pacemaker Press International.