Eazi Grip

Crucial points for Tarran Mackenzie and Jason O’Halloran at Donington

Mackenzie under lap record on day one at Donington

Tarran Mackenzie was under the lap record as he topped the timesheets on the opening day of action of Round 10 of the 2021 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park. Team-mate Jason O’Halloran was fourth.

A heavy shower ahead of practice left some damp patches before FP1 so both Mackenzie and O’Halloran left it ten minutes before leaving the garage.

O’Halloran had opted to try the harder of the two rear tyre options as the temperatures plunged, spending the entire session on the same rear tyre without returning to the box until the end.

Mackenzie on the softer option rear, again using the same tyre for the whole session, set the sixth quickest time with O’Halloran seventh in FP1.

Conditions were glorious for FP2 later in the afternoon, this time Mackenzie trying the harder rear with O’Halloran heading out on the soft. The Aussie was quick right away and while Mackenzie was posting competitive lap times on the harder rear, he instantly improved on the softer SCX, storming to the top of the pile with a 1’28.703 – a time under the existing circuit lap record. O’Halloran’s 1’29.007 placed him fourth quickest on Friday.

The Superbike riders are faced with a hectic schedule on Saturday with times moved forward in order to avoid a deluge of poor weather forecast for the afternoon. Free Practice 3 will now take place at 09:00 ahead of qualifying at 10:28 and then the first race of the weekend at 12:30.

Ian Hutchinson was 13th on the timesheets for Edwards 1902 Yamaha in the National Superstock category.

Tarran Mackenzie

Free Practice: 1st – 1’28.703
“I think that’s the first time I’ve ever topped a Friday! It’s a great position to be in, I have a great feeling on the bike. I used the hard tyre a lot in the second session but didn’t really like it, as soon as we put the SCX in I had a great feeling straightaway and was very good so we’ll definitely be racing with that. The weather looks a bit mixed tomorrow, but I think we’ll be ready for any condition – I can’t wait!”

Jason O’Halloran

Free Practice: 4th – 1’29.007
“It’s been a good day for us, I’m glad we got some dry track time. I’m feeling OK on the bike, there are a few areas I’d like to improve so hopefully free practice is dry in the morning so we can try a few things ahead of qualifying and the race. The weather forecast isn’t too great, but hopefully with the race moved forward we can avoid the worst of it.”

Steve Rodgers

Team Owner
“It was good to get two dry sessions in today and it was important for both riders to try the SC0 tyre as the temperature gets cooler, so that probably hid a bit of true overall pace, but both Tarran and Jason are feeling good. Tarran usually builds up across the weekend so to be quick on Friday is a really promising sign for him, there are a few things we can improve on Jason’s side so fingers crossed that progress continues tomorrow. It looks like the weather is going to play a part but hopefully the new schedule means we avoid the worst of it.”

Crucial points for Tarran and Jason on Saturday

Jason O’Halloran and Tarran Mackenzie put in a pair of gritty rides to take valuable points in a race of attrition at Donington Park.

The first race of the weekend had been brought forward to 12:30 on Saturday as organisers looked to avoid heavy rainfall forecast for the afternoon, but hopes of the opening encounter being dry were dashed when the rain came between Q1 and Q2.

With Donington Park notoriously slippery in the wet, qualifying was very much a lottery with O’Halloran opting for a harder rear wet and Mackenzie a soft. The latter became one of a number of riders to succumb to the conditions as he crashed out of contention on the brakes into the Fogarty Esses. O’Halloran clocked a time of 1’46.862 which placed him tenth on the grid, Mackenzie would have to start 16th after his crash.

Conditions had further worsened ahead of the race, so it would soon become about making the distance in what quickly became a race of attrition with many riders crashing out. The McAMS Yamaha duo were tenth and eleventh in the early stages as they found their rhythm, but as riders began to fall in front of them they made their way higher in the ranking.

With title rivals Bridewell and Brookes crashing out of the race, the objective of finishing the race with solid points became all the more clear and the duo kept their heads and continued to make progress, crossing the line fifth and seventh respectively to take valuable championship points.

O’Halloran and Mackenzie are now tied on points in the championship standings with 1102 points, 18 points ahead of Tommy Bridewell in third.

Tarran Mackenzie

Qualifying: 16th       Race 1: 7th           Championship: 2nd (1102 points)
“I am kind of glad I crashed in Qualifying because I felt like I could ride around and do what I normally do in the wet but I don’t think it was possible for me to do that in those conditions so after that crash I told myself I was going to have to ride around and try to finish the race wherever I could. When I saw Tommy go down and that Jason was only a couple of points ahead, I wasn’t too worried so I just watched my pit board, rode to the board and got round to score some valuable points. It’s days like today where the points really matter for the rest of the year, so I’m pretty pleased with today’s result and hopefully it’s dry tomorrow and we can bounce back.”

Jason O’Halloran

Qualifying: 10th       Race 1: 5th           Championship: 1st (1102 points)
“My mentality before the race was to just finish the race; I wasn’t bothered about where I finished I just wanted to stay on. The first couple of laps were a bit frantic as the people behind seemed to be pushing quite hard, but I let the race settle down and set into a rhythm I was comfortable with. To finish fifth is great, I thought I was 12th or something so I was really surprised when the team told me that. It would have been very easy to end up on your backside in that race so the are some really important points as every point matters at the minute.”

Steve Rodgers

Team Owner
“It’s a cliche, but you can’t win championships on days like today but you can certainly lose them and the instruction to both riders was to avoid taking any risks, see how the race panned out and bring it home with some solid points. There were always going to be people with less to lose than us who went for it, and fair play to them there were some great rides out there today, but the level-headed rides from both Jason and Tarran to take very important points for the championship battle were among them and as a team we are very happy with the result.”

Tarran victorious at Donington Park

Tarran Mackenzie took McAMS Yamaha’s 18th victory of the season with a sublime performance in the second race of the weekend at Donington Park to strengthen his position at the top of the 2021 Bennetts British Superbike championship. Team-mate Jason O’Halloran endured a tougher weekend, but still brought home solid points to remain second in the standings.

After Saturday’s deluge, it was a relief to see blue skies on Sunday morning. With warm-up still damp from overnight rain, coupled with the chilly October temperatures, the duo opted to sit out of the final ten-minute practice session feeling prepared for the race.

Donning a special livery to celebrate sponsor McAMS’ 25th anniversary, the duo lined up 10th (O’Halloran) and 13th on the grid for the first dry race of the weekend after wobbling round to solid points on Saturday.

Despite the sunny weather, track temperature was the lowest it’s been all year leading to a tyre predicament on the grid with a question mark over whether the softer SCX rear would last the distance. Having completed a strong race run in FP3 on the harder SC0, O’Halloran opted for the hard option while Mackenzie stuck with what he knew and went with the softer SCX.

The first ten laps saw a 12-bike train for the lead as the riders on the harder option tyre worked to get heat into their tyre while those on SCXs rode tentatively as they tried to conserve the tyre.

Comfortably in sixth, at about mid-race distance Mackenzie began his charge, easily picking off his rivals one by one until he was behind race leader Danny Buchan on the penultimate lap where he secured a pass into the Fogarty esses and held his own on the final tour for a commanding win.

Struggling in the early stages, O’Halloran was unable to make up ground and crossed the line ninth.

Having set the fastest lap of race two on the final lap, Mackenzie lined up pole for the third and final race of the weekend but rain on the warm-up lap led to a delayed start. When things finally got underway in wet conditions, the heavens opened even further forcing another aborted start.

After a short delay, bikes were back on the grid and while the rain had abated, the track remained very wet. Starting from pole position, Mackenzie led initially before dropping back to fourth when his race would cruelly end when broken battery connector brought his R1 to a halt.

Determined to cross the line, O’Halloran battled on to take eighth place to close the championship gap. The team-mates are now split by just ten points going into the final round, but the Ducatis of Iddon and Bridewell are both within striking distance.

O’Halloran’s eighth place was enough to ensure Yamaha’s lead is insurmountable in the 2021 Manufacturers Championship.

The series will conclude at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.

Tarran Mackenzie

Race 1: 7th
Race 2: 1st
Race 3: DNF
Championship: 2nd (1117 points)

“I think there are a lot of positives to take out of this weekend as we come away from Donington with a bigger points lead than we had coming here, so I’m really happy with that. We showed our speed in the first race coming through from 13th to win. In the dry we have a great setting, in the wet in the final race I also felt really comfortable and had a good feeling but unfortunately a little technical problem, which was no-one’s fault, ruled us out. We go to Brands with a bit of a buffer, it’s not a lot, but it’s a bit and I look forward to getting stuck in there whatever the weather.”

Jason O’Halloran

Race 1: 5th 
Race 2: 9th
Race 3: 8th
Championship: 2nd (1117 points)

“It’s been a really difficult weekend for us. The second race was tough, I got caught up in a battle with both the Irwins, Bradley Ray and a few others and we were just smashing into each other at every corner and unfortunately we couldn’t get away from each other which made it really difficult. In the third race, all I wanted to do was get to the finish line, I struggled with a bit of entry grip from the rear, it was really cold and really slippery so I was just happy to make the flag. There are ten points in it now, we’ve got a week off which I’m looking forward to and when it’s all to play for at Brands.”

Steve Rodgers

Team Owner
“It’s been a challenging weekend with the weather but all in all I think we have to be happy as we head to Brands with a bigger championship lead than we had when we came here. Tarran’s race two victory was brilliant, it was a shame to see him out of the final race with a small technical issue but these things happen. It’s been a tougher weekend for Jason, but we know what he is capable of and I am confident he will be in the fight at Brands. Tarran leads the fight by ten points, we are still 1-2 in the championship and we have 15 points on the others. That being said, we’ve seen multiple times that anything can happen in the Showdown so we need to go to Brands Hatch, give it our all and see what happens.”

Posted on Monday, October 4th, 2021 in News

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