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Eazi Grip

Jason O’Halloran breaks the Donington lap record and shines with a dominant victory

O’Halloran on the pace on Friday

Jason O’Halloran and the McAMS Yamaha team made a strong start to round ten of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship today, ending Friday’s running fourth fastest at Donington Park. On his debut to the class, team-mate Niccolò Canepa was 16th.

The McAMS Yamaha team made a quick start to their quest for a return to winning ways this weekend, as Jason O’Halloran stormed to fourth, confirming his place in Q2 tomorrow. Niccolò Canepa enjoyed a productive day as he adapts to the BSB-spec R1, improving his laptimes and confidence with the bike to place 16th on the timesheets.

After a deluge of rainfall in the evening, blue skies were a welcome sight as the duo looked to make the most of the perfect conditions. A strong-starting O’Halloran was quick from the off, settling into a rhythm as he clocked a 1:28.866 to finish the opening session fourth.

As temperatures increased for the second outing, the ‘O’Show’ quickly found the feeling with his R1. Running a much-changed bike to the opening session, putting his side of the garage’s findings from earlier in the year to use, he improved his lap time and remained comfortably inside the top five at the mid-way stage. Improving again, the Australian joined his OMG counterparts inside the top three but was bumped back to fourth as the flag fell, concluding a productive day for the #22 rider.

For Niccolò Canepa, the opening day was all about re-acquainting himself with the 2.498-mile circuit and the BSB R1. Instantly feeling good on the McAMS Yamaha machine, the experienced Italian began working through a few changes as he looked to understand how the Superbike behaves. The double World Champion made another step in the second practice and ended the day happy, 16th fastest and just over a second adrift of the top time. Canepa will look to make another step tomorrow ahead before venturing out in Q1.

Jason O’Halloran
Practice: 4th (1:28.125)

“A good opening day and two really strong sessions. We had two different bikes from FP1 to FP2 as we found a few things from earlier in the year which we wanted to try and although we’ve a few areas we need to improve, I’m overall happy with the day’s work. We were competitive today and with a few changes overnight, we’ll be a bit closer tomorrow.”

Niccolò Canepa
Practice: 16th (1:29.028) 

“It was a great day! The position isn’t great but the lap time was really good for my first day. The bike feels really good and the team have been great and worked hard to help me feel more comfortable. I’m looking forward to more laps tomorrow to understand how to ride these Superbikes because the bike is super competitive and really good, I just need to understand a bit more!”

Steve Rodgers
Team Principal

“It’s been a good day, we’ve tried a few things with Jason as we wanted to find some answers to some of the issues we’ve been having and we’ve definitely taken steps in a good direction. He’s in the mix and competitive and we think there is more to come too. It was a strong start for Niccolò, it’s very easy to look at the position but he improved by over a second and is only a second off the top in his second session on the bike. Once he gets his head around the electronics he can hopefully make another step.”

Lap record pole and sprint struggles for McAMS Yamaha

The McAMS Yamaha team endured mixed emotions today as the opening race of the weekend took place at Donington Park as Jason O’Halloran was unable to turn his lap-record pole position into a strong result in a sodden Sprint race.

Much cooler and cloudy conditions set the scene for the opening race day of the tenth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship. Jason O’Halloran and Niccolò Canepa both made steps forward in the third and final practice session, setting up a fruitful qualifying session.

But the rain began to fall moments before Q1 but not enough to have an effect on the track. Canepa ventured out and quickly got up to speed before posting his first 1’28 lap of the weekend, seeing him comfortably into Q2.

The McAMS Yamaha duo ventured out together with O’Halloran leading Canepa, which helped the Italian rocket to seventh. Returning to the pits as O’Halloran stayed on track, the O’Show prepared for one final act, smashing the BSB lap record to claim another pole position.

However, things unravelled as the rain fell for the Sprint race, launching from pole, O’Halloran, who opted for a wet front and intermediate rear, struggled to find the feeling and toughed it out till the end, but his risks were sadly unrewarded with a 17th place finish.

Niccolò Canepa’s strong qualifying also didn’t pay off as the Italian retired early on with vibration from the front wheel.

Jason O’Halloran
Qualifying: 1st (1:27.196)
Sprint Race: 17th

“Not much to say really! We had a great qualifying and was up for the race but the rain just before it changed it. I changed to inters, then we only had time to change to the wet front. The front wasn’t the issue, it was the rear and I just had no grip. A few others made it work, but we struggled with the settings we had. Looking forward to tomorrow, and wet or dry we’ll make a few changes to make it work.”

Niccolò Canepa
Qualifying: 7th (1:27.807)
Sprint Race: DNF

“I am very frustrated because I like those conditions and thought this was a good opportunity especially after qualifying. Unfortunately I had very bad vibrations from the front on the first lap and could not stop the bike so I had to pull in. Like I say, this is frustrating as even with the inter I had good rear grip so feel we could have made something of the conditions. Unfortunately this means we are further back on the grid for tomorrow but we’ll do our best whatever the weather.”

Steve Rodgers
Team Principal

“After such an incredible qualifying with Jason storming to pole position and Niccolò starting an impressive seventh, we had high hopes but the rain coming down threw a huge spanner in the works. Making the tyre choice was so, so difficult – on the grid it was pretty dry but it was a lot wetter out the back of the circuit so we decided on wet front inter rear, perhaps if we had a few more minutes we’d have gone full wet but we didn’t have that time. Unfortunately Jason had no grip from the rear. Niccolò unfortunately had some bad vibrations from the front and had to retire on the opening lap. We’ll try again tomorrow.”

Jason O’Halloran wins at Donington Park

Jason O’Halloran returned to the top step of the podium with a dominant wet weather win in the third race at Donington Park, keeping his championship hopes alive ahead of the final race at Brands Hatch.

Having stormed to pole position with the quickest ever Bennetts BSB lap of Donington Park on Saturday, the Bike Social Sprint Race proved disastrous for O’Halloran as he could only muster 17th after suffering a lack of grip with a cold intermediate tyre.

This also made for a tricky start to Sunday with the Aussie having to start a dry Race 2 from 21st on the grid but an incredible start saw him make up numerous positions to make his way into the top ten by lap two. In the closing stages, O’Halloran had just moved into fourth and looked on for a podium spot when the red flags came out bringing the race to a premature end, moving him back to fifth in the result.

Having set the third quickest lap of the race, the Aussie earned himself a front row start for the final race of the weekend which after a mid-afternoon downpour would be a wet encounter. Launching off the line, O’Halloran took the holeshot into turn one and never looked back, building his lead first corner by corner and then lap by lap before managing a steady gap of between four and five seconds to the chasing pack behind. It was a long race, and with a mechanical for Haslam chasing behind a red flag would bring it to an end four laps early with O’Halloran taking his fifth victory of the year.

He now sits just 50 points back on championship leader Tommy Bridewell ahead of Brands Hatch, where there are a whopping 35 points available per win.

The British conditions made for a tricky Bennetts BSB debut for Niccolo Canepa, who had impressed with a seventh place in qualifying. Changing conditions throughout the weekend allowed for no consistency, meaning as he got used to one set of conditions he was then faced with the challenging of learning the bike in entirely new circumstances. The Italian saw a scorecard of 12th and 13th on Sunday, but showed significant promise ahead of a second outing at Brands Hatch.

The series comes to its conclusion at Brands Hatch between 13th – 15th October.

Jason O’Halloran
Race 1: 17th     Race 2: 5th       Race 3: 1st        Championship: 5th (317.5 points)

“It’s been an amazing day. I was really happy with the first race to come from 21st to fifth but at the same time I was also a little frustrated as the race got stopped early and a podium was on the cards. Starting on the front row for the last race obviously made things a lot easier the bike felt fantastic in the wet conditions. Even when I was pulling away I didn’t feel like I was riding out of my skin to do it, I felt really comfortable on the bike, trying to hit all my markers and control the lap time. I used my dash and my lap timer to break the track into sectors and make sure I wasn’t too far away at any given point and the boys gave me great signals on the board so we could control it to the end. To get another win and bring the gap to the leader down with 35 points per race on offer at Brands certainly means we can head there with a spring in our step.”

Niccolò Canepa
Race 1: DNF     Race 2: 12th       Race 3: 13th      

“This weekend has been a fantastic experience, I have really enjoyed the bike, the team and the atmosphere here at BSB. Unfortunately we didn’t achieve what we could have because the conditions were really difficult. I was really satisfied to qualify seventh in the dry and I thought I could have had a strong dry race but unfortunately the conditions changed! In the mixed conditions in the Sprint I had to retire which was a shame as it would have been good to get the experience in the wet with no traction control. In warm up I learned a lot about the wet conditions and felt confident, but then the race was dry! It took me a while to get up to speed in the dry conditions, but when I did I had the pace for the top six/seven so this is promising but it was too late. And then in race three the conditions changed again! It was a similar story, I had pace at the end once I had found my rhythm so while we didn’t achieve a result, we gained a lot of experience so I am ready for Brands Hatch whatever the conditions!”

Steve Rodgers
Team Principal

“We were obviously really disappointed after the Sprint Race and coming in to today knowing we’d start 21st on the grid we knew we had a job on. The plan for the first race was for Jason to make sure he could get a lap time to improve the grid position for Race 2, usually in BSB it’s very hard to progress from so far back on the grid! He set the third fastest lap quite early on so that was the job done really, so it was an added bonus that he managed to come through to fifth and could’ve had a podium if the race wasn’t red flagged. His riding in the wet weather race at the end of the day was imperious, it was a clever ride and an important one as we now go to Brands Hatch in with a chance, but with nothing to lose so we’ll be giving it our all. Niccolo showed a lot of promise this weekend, his results weren’t really reflective of his pace but he had a lot to learn, so he should be able to put this into practice at Brands next week.”

 

Posted on Monday, October 2nd, 2023 in News

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