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Emotional farewell for McAMS Yamaha at Brands Hatch

Top six for O’Halloran on Friday at Brands Hatch

The McAMS Yamaha team made a strong start to their swansong weekend in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, as Jason O’Halloran and Niccolò Canepa braved all conditions to end the day at Brands Hatch sixth and 19th fastest.

McAMS Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran enjoyed a positive start to the final 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship Friday, placing sixth fastest despite pulling out of what would’ve been his fastest lap of the day due to a red flag.

In conditions similar to those he stormed to a dominant victory in at Donington Park a few weeks ago, the Australian ventured out for opening practice, building his feeling in the wet conditions and improved his lap time lap-by-lap to ultimately finish sixth.

It had looked like it was set to be a dry second session, but it would come just a bit too early for a fully dry circuit, leaving damp patches for the riders to contend with across the 2.43-mile venue.

Much like the opening session, O’Halloran found his feeling and gradually worked up to a strong pace aboard his R1, jumping up inside the top three by the mid-way stage. Returning to the track, he began a charge once again, but a red flag at the end of the 40-minutes brought an early end to his personal best flying lap, leaving him sixth fastest and straight into Q2 on Saturday.

For team-mate Niccolò Canepa, it was a traditional British welcome back to Brands Hatch. The two-time FIM Endurance World Champion and Yamaha Motor Europe WorldSBK test rider made a good start to the weekend in the wet, finishing ninth fastest. The Italian looked to make the most of the drier second session to continue working on his feeling aboard the BSB-spec R1 and concluded the session in 19th.

Much like at Donington Park, Canepa will go through Q1 in a bid to join team-mate O’Halloran in the pole position shootout.

Jason O’Halloran
McAMS Yamaha
Pos: 6th     Time: 1:26.511

“It’s been a good day both in the wet and dry. The feeling this morning in the rain was really good, I took my time with it because the track was a bit greasy and then this afternoon was probably the worse conditions you can ride in because it was dry but lots of damp patches. I didn’t want to do anything stupid and risk too much, so I’m happy with the lap time and I’m feeling good, so with a few changes, we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”

Niccolò Canepa
McAMS Yamaha
Pos: 19th     Time: 1:27.659 

“It wasn’t quite the conditions we hoped for, but it was an okay day. The first session was really wet and the second session wasn’t fully dry and with the slicks you need to be careful with the damp patches. It was a bit tricky but I’m feeling good and it was great to get some good information for tomorrow.”

Steve Rodgers
Team Principal

“It’s been a good start to the weekend at Brands Hatch for both riders. The weather gave us a bit of a challenge with the rain this morning and damp patches this afternoon, but Jason’s feeling good on the bike in both conditions and is straight through to Q2 which is the main thing. He had to roll out of a quick lap at the end but the pace is there and hopefully can push for some good results to end our story! Niccolò hasn’t ridden here since 2007 but was really impressive in the wet conditions this morning finishing inside the top ten. This afternoon he was finding his way round in the dry, but he’s feeling good, and we know there’s more to come from him tomorrow.”

Jason O’Halloran secures second place in Brands Hatch Sprint Race

Jason O’Halloran brought more smiles to an emotional McAMS Yamaha camp today, securing a stunning pole position before taking second place in the 12-lap Bike Social Sprint Race at Brands Hatch.

O’Halloran fought till the very end in a challenging opening race in the final round of the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, missing out on the Sprint victory by just 0.015 seconds as he picked up his tenth podium finish of the year.

Damp conditions set the scene on Saturday morning as both O’Halloran and Niccolò Canepa ventured out for free practice three with the Australian finishing ninth and Canepa in fifth. As conditions dried up, the rain would then fall once again ahead of the eBay Qualifying sessions, resulting in a delay to the schedule.

O’Halloran was keen to get out on track early in a bid to find the grip around the soaked Brands Hatch circuit, and he did just that. Improving his pace lap-by-lap, much like in Friday’s opening free practice session, the number 22 rider stormed to the top of the timesheets with a 1:36.097 and held on to take the pole position in the team’s final qualifying session.

O’Halloran made a strong launch from pole in conditions similar to the morning’s session. A blistering start saw him fly into the lead and looked to open a gap in the opening stages. Trading fastest laps with OMG Racing’s Kyle Ryde on the sketchy circuit, O’Halloran was forced to relinquish the lead at the mid-way stage and hooked on to the back of his Yamaha counterpart.

Noticing he was faster in the final sector, the O’Show closed the gap and launched an attack into Paddock Hill bend but couldn’t hold the line, inviting Ryde back through on the run-up to Druids Hairpin. A stronger run through the final corner saw O’Halloran pull up alongside Ryde’s Yamaha, but narrowly missed out on victory by 0.015 seconds, securing 30 points for second, and set the fastest lap of the race, gifting him a second pole of the weekend in race two.

On the other side of the garage, Niccolò Canepa looked to improve upon his impressive wet weather pace on Friday and sat comfortably inside the Q2 places as Qualifying got underway. A 1:40.214 was good enough to put the Italian into second place when the flag fell, but traffic on his final lap and, improvements from other riders, demoted the double FIM World Endurance Champion to ninth, leaving him 21st on the grid for the 12-lap dash.

Canepa’s Sprint got off to a tricky start, dropping down the order before being forced to retire with the black and orange flag. Once the R1 returned to the garage there were no obvious signs of an issue and will return to action on Sunday morning once undergone further checks.

Thanks to his second place, O’Halloran lies fourth in the title chase, 47.5 points adrift from the top of the standings with 70 points up for grabs in Sunday’s races.

Jason O’Halloran
McAMS Yamaha
Qualifying: 1st

Sprint Race: 2nd
Championship: 4th (347.5 points)

“It’s always a difficult race in mixed conditions like that. I made a great start and got to the front, but when Kyle came by, I was able to use him as a bit of a marker which made things a bit easier. I got backed passed Kyle on the last lap but didn’t quite hold the line and he got back through at the bottom of Paddock Hill. I knew I was a bit quicker around the back of the track so I knew I was going to have a chance on the run to the line, but we just missed out. I’m happy with second, the pace was really fast and I knew that I had to do something today to keep the Championship hopes alive for tomorrow!”

Niccolò Canepa
McAMS Yamaha
Qualifying: 21st

Race: DNF

“I was very angry after qualifying because I crossed the line in second position but I got held up on my last lap and other riders went faster so I dropped to ninth and had to start the race from 21st. The conditions changed again for the race, it feels like every time I ride the bike the conditions are different, but unfortunately, we were shown the black and orange flag so had to stop.”

Steve Rodgers
Team Principal

That was an incredible ride from Jason in difficult conditions so the lap times he was doing there were really impressive. He’s been strong wet or dry this weekend and showed just that in the race, so second place was a good result and takes the Championship fight to tomorrow’s two races. It was a difficult day for Niccolò. He was riding really well in Q1 but he got held up on his last lap, dropping from second to ninth and didn’t quite make the cut for Q2. In the race he was given the black and orange flag for a possible technical problem but when we got the bike back everything seems to be OK. We’ll run a few checks to understand why that was the case and make sure it’s ready to go tomorrow.”

Emotional farewell at McAMS Yamaha last ever race day

The McAMS Yamaha team bid an emotional farewell to the Bennetts British Superbike Championship in a dramatic Sunday Brands Hatch finale.

After a stunning second place on Saturday, the team had high hopes for a strong end to their illustrious BSB story, running in a special 2017-inspired livery as a nod to team boss Steve Rodgers.

Starting the second race of the weekend from pole position, Jason O’Halloran was well in the fight for victory until a safety car intervention at the mid-way point. Sitting second as the race restarted, the Aussie tucked the front at Surtees as the result of the temperature lost from the tyres during the slow safety car period.

Fortunately unhurt, O’Halloran was able to start the final race of the weekend, lining up in third position. Despite a strong start, he would soon drop back through the pack to ninth, suffering with a lack of feeling in braking. He was able to recover to seventh, which is where he’d cross the line to end his story with the McAMS Yamaha team.

Stand-in rider Niccolò Canepa endured a frustrating weekend with a lack of consistent conditions hampering his progress as he looked to get to grips with the BSB-spec R1 around the challenging Brands Hatch circuit. Yamaha’s WorldSBK test rider did make strong progress on Sunday, significantly improving his lap time and reaching the points with 15th in the second race, but his potential was severely hampered by the lack of track time.

O’Halloran rounds out the 2023 British Championship in sixth place, with the McAMS Yamaha team taking fourth in the team’s championship in their final year of competition.

Jason O’Halloran
McAMS Yamaha
Race 2: DNF

Race 3: 7th
Championship: 6th (365.5 points)

“After yesterday’s race I was really confident we could have a strong end to the season today, I felt really good in the dry and lining up pole gave us a chance. We got a good start and I was feeling really strong, when the safety car came out I think the tyres just cooled that little bit too much and as I tipped in to Surtees the front just went so early without warning. It was a huge shame as I was biding my time and we saw that some of our rivals on the harder tyre were struggling even towards the end so with the SCX in I’m confident we could have had a result. Unfortunately, following the crash the brakes just didn’t feel quite right in the final race, and a few other things, meaning we couldn’t challenge like we had in the first two races. It’s a shame to end this way, but I think together with the team we can look back on what we’ve achieved with great pride. We’ve had an incredible journey over the last five years and I wish everyone all the success in their next steps. A huge thanks to Steve Rodgers, Wendy, Tina and all the other people who make this happen.”

Niccolò Canepa
McAMS Yamaha
Race 2: 16th
Race 3: 15th

“It was a great experience to race in the last two rounds of BSB with McAMS Yamaha. It’s a fantastic team with wonderful people and an amazing atmosphere made the weekends truly special. Unfortunately, it felt like there were different conditions in every session I rode over the two weekends and this meant we couldn’t show our full potential. BSB is a very competitive class so without the track time and experience racing with the faster riders, a good result is not possible. Still, I very much enjoyed my time here and a huge thanks to Steve and the team for the opportunity.”

Steve Rodgers
Team Principal

“Well, that’s that! It’s a shame Jason crashed today as he was riding so well, I think the way he rode at Donington and in the first race on Saturday here is among the best he’s ridden the R1, but this is racing and winning isn’t easy! Still, we have achieved a lot together. He’s won more races for this team than any other rider and I’d like to thank him for everything over the last five years and wish him all the best in his new adventure. It was always going to be difficult for Niccolo with the weather as there was just no consistency in conditions for him to be able to improve. Still, he showed us his class and exactly why Yamaha employ him as test rider – his feedback is second to none and I’ve no doubt if he spent some more time in BSB he’d be able to fight up the front. That’s the end of our story, and you know what? It feels like the time is right. There are no regrets, we’ve had an incredible journey and made lifelong memories. Thanks to everyone who has made it possible and good luck to every single member of the team for the future.”

 

Posted on Wednesday, October 18th, 2023 in News

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