McAMS Yamaha and Jason O’Halloran lead the way
Jason O’Halloran and the McAMS Yamaha team led the way as the fourth round of the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship got underway at Knockhill today.
Fresh off the back of his double at Donington Park last month, plus a productive test at Knockhill at the start of June, O’Halloran was quick out of the blocks in both wet and dry conditions on Friday.
While most of the UK enjoyed soaring temperatures, it was wind, rain and a dismal 12 degrees at Knockhill for the opening Free Practice session and with conditions set to improve, reigning champion Tarran Mackenzie opted to sit out of FP1. However, team-mate O’Halloran took to the track and was quick instantly, rounding the wet session off second quickest overall.
By 16:30, the track was fully dry and the sun had made an appearance but high winds proved a hindrance for the riders. O’Halloran was strong throughout the session, consistently lapping within the top three – who at one point were split by just 0.009 seconds – but the Australian managed to put a gap into the rest of the field in the closing stages, rounding out FP2 quickest by 0.1 seconds with a time of 47’648.
It wasn’t as fruitful a session for Mackenzie, who struggled with the high winds as he looked to get comfortable on his R1. He ended the day 13th overall, 0.5 seconds from the top and will have to fight through Q1 for a spot in the second qualifying session tomorrow afternoon.
The opening race of the weekend takes place at 16:30 on Saturday.
Pos: 1st Time: 47’648
“It’s been a good first day, I felt really strong straight away in the wet this morning and had a good feeling with the bike. In the dry we knew we were in a good place from the test so we knew what we were doing. There was a lot of traffic out there today so I didn’t quite get the ideal lap, but I’m feeling strong even with the wind – which was quite high today but I’m feeling good and looking forward to going racing.”
Pos: 13th Time: 48’192
“I didn’t go out in the wet session this morning as in those conditions there’s a lot to lose and not a lot to gain, especially with the forecast improving as the weekend goes on. In the dry session I struggled a bit to be honest to get the feeling, it was really windy and that was quite unsettling. We tried a few things with the bike, so we’ll look at the data this evening and decide on a direction for tomorrow.”
“We knew we were in a good place heading here as the two-day test we had was very productive, so it’s not too much of a surprise to see Jason quick today as we knew he would be. Wet or dry, he was fast and looking confident so that bodes well for tomorrow. Tarran has a bit of work to do, but let’s not forget this is only his second round this season so there’s a bit for them to catch up on with the bike – we’ve no doubt he’ll be closer to the front tomorrow – he’s always been a race day man!”
Second for Jason O’Halloran in Knockhill opener
Jason O’Halloran took a strong second place in the opening race at the fourth round of the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Knockhill, matching his best-ever result at the scratchy Scottish track.
Having topped Friday’s running, the Australian was feeling confident for Saturday and after a strong final practice, he went on to fight for pole position in Qualifying 2, missing out by just 0.005 seconds to Bradley Ray.
It was a tough morning for reigning champion Tarran Mackenzie, who slipped off at the second turn in the final free practice session. The #1 rider was unhurt, but his R1 sustained significant garage leading to a full team effort to repair it ahead of Qualifying 1. Getting out for the session, Mackenzie was looking strong and had just topped the session when he lost the front at turn one. Again unhurt, the same couldn’t be said for his R1 and this time the damage would prove too much with the team unable to repair it in time for the afternoon’s race meaning the 26-year-old had to watch from the sidelines.
Getting a strong launch from the front row of the grid, O’Halloran slotted into second in the early stages before dropping back to third. He’d then move back to second, but the gap to Ray out front would prove insurmountable in the closing stages. Nevertheless he was happy to come home with his second ever rostrum at Knockhill.
O’Halloran will start tomorrow’s second race from fourth on the grid while Mackenzie will have to start from 30th position after missing Friday’s action.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Knockhill, eBay Sprint Race result:
Qual: 2nd Race: 2nd
“To be honest I am over the moon, I really enjoyed the race. Brad was a little bit faster than us in that one but I am happy with the pace we had. I had a bit of a fight with Rory at the start and lost a bit of time, when I managed to get back by I managed to build a gap and rode my own race. I’m sure we can make some improvements for tomorrow, we’ve only been tweaking the bike this weekend but I think we can make some improvements tomorrow and see if we can up the pace. But that being said, I’m really happy to be on the podium as this has never been the best track for me.”
Qual: 16th Race: DNS
“It’s been a tough day! This morning I crashed at turn two and the boys re-built the bike for Qualifying and I was feeling good, but I tried something different and it didn’t quite pay off and I tucked the front at turn one. Unfortunately the bike suffered quite a bit of damage, so sorry to the team as they worked hard to get it out for qualifying and then had to work even harder to try and make the race. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible, but it is what it is. We’ll have to start from the back tomorrow but I’ll give it my all to get the best result I can as well as a better grid spot for the third race.”
“That was a great ride from Jason. It was so windy today, which made a tricky circuit even more challenging so to bring it home in second is a brilliant result. He’s in a great place at the moment so hopefully we can get two more strong finishes tomorrow and continue to build our attack. It’s been a challenging day for the other side of the garage, but that’s motorcycle racing! The good thing is Tarran is OK and will be racing tomorrow – so hopefully we can have a solid first race for him and look at attacking further in Race 3.”
Jason O’Halloran does the double
Jason O’Halloran stormed to a sensational Scottish double at Knockhill on Sunday, taking two commanding victories on his McAMS Yamaha R1.
The Australian had never won at the circuit before, but a strong second place on Saturday set him up for an even better Sunday. Starting fourth on the grid, O’Halloran sat third in the early stages but looked comfortable. A safety car intervention neutralised the race around mid-distance, and when racing resumed O’Halloran looked ready to pounce. A brave move into the Hairpin saw him take second, before moving into the lead a couple of laps later, holding the gap at around 0.7 seconds to take his first Knockhill win.
It was a strong second race for Tarran Mackenzie too, having missed Saturday’s opener, the reigning champion had to start from 29th on the grid but a barnstorming performance saw him break into the top ten by the end of the race.
O’Halloran had earned himself a front row start for the final race of the weekend and he didn’t let it go to waste. He again settled into third in the early stages and when Rory Skinner crashed out of the lead, he sat on the tail of Brad Ray’s R1 for two third of the race looking comfortable, before pouncing at the hairpin with five laps to go and pulling a 0.9 second lead to take his second successive double win.
Starting tenth on the grid, Mackenzie dropped back to 12th in the early stages as he struggled with grip, but a sudden improvement saw him fight through the field to a strong eighth place to take more valuable points as he looks to recover from missing the opening two rounds.
O’Halloran’s Scottish success sees him close the gap in the championship to just 16 points, while in the all-important podium points he is just four behind Ray. Mackenzie now sits 15th in the standings 45 points off a spot in the Showdown top eight.
The 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship resumes at Brands Hatch on 22-24 July.
Race 1: 2nd
Race 2: 1st
Race 3: 1st
Championship: 2nd (200 points)
“It’s been an incredible weekend, yesterday I was absolutely buzzing with second. This isn’t the best track for me, but I enjoyed the race yesterday and I was looking forward to today. The guys have done a great job with the bike, improved it a bit off the back of yesterday and it felt incredible and managed to get another pair of wins. We’ve had four wins in the last six races, six podiums from six races and we are closing down the podium points and championship leads. An awesome couple of weekends, I’m feeling super strong in the races, in complete control and I can’t wait to keep progressing and getting stronger as the season moves on.”
Race 1: DNS
Race 2: 10th
Race 3: 8th
Championship: 15th (35 points)
“It’s obviously been a tough weekend, Friday we had some issues and Saturday was Saturday. We knew it would be tough starting from so far back on the grid in Race 2 but I felt good on the bike and felt I could get through the pack quite easily so I was pretty happy. I was looking forward to starting further up in Race 3 but the first few laps weren’t great, I felt like I didn’t have a lot of grip but then it sort of came to me and I managed to make my way through a bit, I’d have liked to finish a bit higher up but all points count at this stage.”
“Another incredible ride from Jason. I have to say, that was very impressive. Knockhill has never been his best track and to be honest, it’s never been ours – until today it was the only track on the calendar where we hadn’t won, so for Jason to do the double is remarkable. It shows how far both he and the team have come with the bike – we dominated in 2021 and even then we didn’t win at Knockhill, so this is huge for us. It was a challenging weekend for Tarran, but in the end he was able to take some valuable points which is the most important thing.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Knockhill, Race 2 result:
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Knockhill, Race 3 result:
Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings after Knockhill: