Kevin Keyes, a race winner in the National Junior Superstock Championship, will make his debut at the TT later this year.
The 25-year-old will contest the RST Superbike, RL360 Superstock and Milwaukee Senior Races on the Daracore Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 as well as the two Monster Energy Supersport Races on board a Yamaha YZF-R6 previously used by Jamie Coward and the KTS Racing team.
Hailing from Edenderry, Ireland, Keyes was a familiar presence in the British Championship paddock between 2015 and 2022, initially making his name in the British Junior Cup where he finished second overall in 2015 with five wins and nine podiums.
Keyes took to road racing for the first time in 2022, contesting the Walderstown Road Races with immediate success as he dominated the Irish Senior Support Championship race ahead of eventual champion Keelim Ryan, Michael Gillan and Manxman Marcus Simpson.
A switch to the 1000cc class and Daracore Racing team came in 2023 for a year of circuit racing away from the national series, securing race victories, podiums and a championship against the likes of Josh Owens, Jamie Coward, Sam West and Marcus Simpson.
Keyes undertook his first of several planned visits to the island recently, completing laps with rider liaison officers John Barton and Richard ‘Milky’ Quayle.
Kevin Keyes: ‘I’m extremely excited to be making my TT debut later this year and the work is well underway to be as best prepared as possible.’
‘Watching the onboard videos doesn’t fully prepare you for seeing the Mountain Course in real though, as there are so many undulations and climbs you can’t see on the TV.
‘The laps with Johnny [Barton] and [Richard] Milky [Quayle] have been of great benefit though, so I’ll head back to the Island again in the coming months as I want my knowledge to the best it possibly can. Michael Sweeney has been a great mentor for my roads journey so far, so there will be plenty of support and advice available to me from him, too.”
‘I really fell in love with road racing that first time at Walderstown.
'I surprised myself with the wins but now seems the right time to take it a bit further. I considered doing the Manx Grand Prix but there perhaps would have been a bit more pressure to perform there, so I’m delighted that the opportunity to come straight to the TT was there.
'Everyone will be concentrating on Hickman, Dunlop and McGuinness, so I can just go about the event almost unknown.
‘The Supersport class is the one I have the most experience in having ridden the 600cc bikes for seven years, but I’ve adapted well to the big bike and I’m learning all the time. I’m not focusing on the results in my first year though, it’s all about making the most of the track time available in every session and enjoying my first TT.’