Jason O’Halloran third at Brands Hatch practice
Jason O’Halloran got his Brands Hatch weekend off to a strong start today, placing third on the timesheets despite feeling there is more to come from his McAMS Yamaha R1. For team-mate Tito Rabat the opening day didn’t quite pay off, finishing 24th after a small tip-off in the second session.
The McAMS Yamaha team enjoyed a strong start to round six of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, with Jason O’Halloran flying to third on the timesheets despite preferring the setup from the morning session.
The Australian made a strong start in free practice one, opting for a base setting he and the team knew and had prior success with before making changes for the afternoon outing. Those changes didn’t quite pay off for the 35-year-old and with little time in the session to change the bike back, he pushed on for a lap, placing himself third with plenty more to come tomorrow.
It was a tough day for Tito Rabat who is still learning every time he jumps on the bike. The Spaniard made progress in the morning session before making changes to the setup of the bike for the second running, but a small tip-off ended his running early. However, the 34-year-old remains confident of making progress ahead of qualifying and the first race tomorrow.
With a strong showing on Friday, Jason O’Halloran has confirmed his place in the Omolgato Superpole on Saturday ahead of the Sprint Race at 17.17.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, combined Free Practice result:
“First day done and third overall. We tried a few things and started with a setting that we knew before making some changes for the afternoon session. The first outing wasn’t bad, but we made another big change and the feeling kind of went away and we didn’t have time to change it back. I went for a push lap and pulled a lap time together good enough for third so I’m confident that with a few steps back with the set up, we can make a good day of it tomorrow.”
“It was a difficult day riding the track for the first time on the Superbike. I like this track because it has a bit of everything and I’m feeling good. We need to change a few things to improving the feeling so hopefully tomorrow will stay dry and we can keep moving forwards.”
“Really positive day for Jason, quick in both the morning and afternoon sessions despite not feeling perfect with the set up in the second session which is encouraging knowing there’s more to come. The forecast looks a bit iffy so we’ll take it as it comes and hopefully get a good result. Tito’s first day at Brands didn’t quite work for him. It’s his first day here on the Superbike so with a bit of work overnight we’re sure he can make an improvement tomorrow.
Fifth for Jason O’Halloran in a soggy Brands Hatch sprint race
Jason O’Halloran fought through the tricky conditions to finish fifth in a red-flagged Bike Social Sprint Race in the sixth round of the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch.
While the final two free practice sessions on Saturday were held in dry conditions, with O’Halloran placing sixth and second in the two outings respectively, the heavens would open ahead of Superpole. This meant the ‘one-lap’ system was ditched in favour of a 12 minute Wet Superpole session.
Opting for the hard wet rear, O’Halloran would qualify ninth for the opening race of the weekend and with the rain persisting throughout the day, it would be the first wet race of the year.
A strong start saw O’Halloran as high as third in the early stages, but struggling for grip with the new tyre, he dropped back to seventh after the opening laps. As the race went on, O’Halloran’s grip improved and he began picking off the riders ahead of him. Moving up to fifth, he was feeling confident and had just set his fastest lap of the race when the red flag came out as a result of another bike spilling oil on the track with five laps to go.
The race would be declared with half points awarded as the riders hadn’t completed the required two thirds distance, leaving O’Halloran fifth on the result sheet.
It was a difficult day for Tito Rabat on the other side of the garage. It had looked to be promising as a big step forward in the dry saw him sit 14th in the final practice session with a realistic chance of qualifying for Superpole in the first 12 minute qualifying session. However, with rain imminent, the Spaniard knew he had to push from the off. Feeling confident, he did just that but with just a little bit too much gas on the exit of Graham Hill Bend, he highsided from his machine ending his hopes of progession.
Starting 24th, it was always going to be a difficult race for the 2014 Moto2 World Champion before the consideration he had never ridden the BSB bike in the wet. Using the race as more of a wet weather test to get used to the R1 in wet conditions, he steadily improved and was 22nd at the time of the red flag.
Race 1: 5th
“Conditions were pretty horrible out there. Starting from row three I knew I had to get through to the front but in the early stages I didn’t have a lot of grip. Once I settled into the race the bike came to me and I started to feel a lot better. I started to move forward and when I passed Leon I had clear track and I felt really good. I’m happy enough with a fifth, but I’d have liked the race to have gone full distance as I think maybe I could have gained a couple of positions. All in all, I’m happy to bring it home in a difficult wet race!”
Race 1: 22nd
“We made a good step in the dry this morning so it was a shame the rain came as I felt good on the bike and that I could push. Unfortunately, I pushed a bit too much in Qualifying and highsided. Then the rain came and this made a difficult race. I’ve not ridden the bike before in the wet so I didn’t know how much I could push, especially without the traction control in these conditions so for me the race was about learning. I knew if I pushed too hard I could have crashed. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow!”
“You can’t not be happy with a solid top five in a race like that. We didn’t quite have the grip on fresh tyres but once the tyres had a few laps on, Jason was getting quicker and quicker and he was closing on the guys in front when the red flag came out. Still, a fifth is a good result and it puts us fifth on the grid tomorrow which gives us something to work with. It was always going to be difficult for Tito in the wet, he’s never ridden in these conditions before on a BSB bike without traction control so it’s understandable he didn’t know how much to push.”
Pair of sixth place finishes for Jason O’Halloran at Brands Hatch
It was a pair of sixth place finishes to complete the sixth round of the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship for Jason O’Halloran and McAMS Yamaha at Brands Hatch as Tito Rabat endured a difficult first visit to the Kent circuit.
Having finished 1-2 in all three races in July’s visit to Brands last summer, the team had high hopes ahead of the weekend and after a strong ride to fifth from ninth on the grid in the wet on Saturday, O’Halloran was confident of stronger results for Sunday’s two races.
However, both would prove to be challenging affair for the Australian who crossed the line sixth in each race after losing ground at the start. In the first encounter, O’Halloran was re-grouping nicely when a safety car interrupted the race and losing a couple of positions on the restart, he’d recover to round out the top six.
Starting sixth in the final race, a strong start saw him in the leading group at the start but after passing Kyle Ryde for fourth in the early stages, the OMG rider made his way back past at Surtees, gently nudging O’Halloran wide with the #22 losing two positions as a result. Managing to get back past Leon Haslam for sixth, it would then be a lonely ride for the former series runner-up to another sixth place.
Team-mate Tito Rabat’s endured a difficult weekend, learning that momentum is key to a BSB round. A crash on Friday saw him on the back foot, and while he made significant improvement in FP4 a crash in the early stages of Qualifying saw him suffer again. With the Sprint race the first time he’d ever ridden a BSB bike in the wet, this proved a valuable learning experience for the Spaniard.
With Sunday’s two races dry, Rabat was keen to use the improvements found in FP4 but his second outing would be brought to an early end after getting caught up in another rider’s incident early in the race.
Starting 23rd for the final race of the weekend, Rabat made up nine positons to cross the line 15th to round out a challenging weekend. However, given the promise shown by the Spaniard, he’ll continue aboard the #53 R1 for the next few rounds.
After the weekend, O’Halloran now sits fifth in the championship 99.5 points behind the leader but has closed the gap to the top three.
The championship resumes at Thruxton between 11-13 August.
Race 1: 5th
Race 2: 6th
Race 3: 6th
“It’s been a tough weekend to be honest. I’d be lying if I said I was happy about it. I’m getting quite frustrated at the minute but that’s life you’ve got to keep fighting with what you’ve got. I thought Brands would be good for us, but it was just a difficult weekend. We don’t really seem to have any strong points at the moment which is hard to believe really. We need to put our heads together for Thruxton, I’ve won five of the last six races at Thruxton and if I get beaten there it’ll be tough. It’s not ideal but we’ll work through it and find a solution.”
Race 1: 21st
Race 2: DNF
Race 3: 15th
“I gave 100% but it’s been a very hard weekend. I’ve not managed to do a lot of laps, I’ve had three crashes, including two quite big ones, and it is hard because the level is very high here and you need laps to improve. In the end I made some good lap times and I was happy as there were positive times, so I look forward to Thruxton where hopefully we can have a clean weekend and improve.”
“We can’t pretend to be happy with the results, we were 1-2 in each race at this meeting last year and obviously this year has been a bit tougher. We can’t blame the Yamaha, Vickers was right up there with the Ducatis in that last race so we need to look at why we can’t do that with ours. We’ve got a good team, a rider who has won more in the last three years than anyone else so we need to put our heads together and figure out what’s not working at the minute. It was a tough weekend for Tito, in BSB you can’t afford to lose track time especially when you are learning. He impressed me in the final race, the result wasn’t great but he kept getting quicker and quicker so we are looking forward to seeing what he can do at Thruxton.”