The McAMS Yamaha team is fired up and ready to go ahead of the opening round of the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, which takes place at Silverstone this Easter weekend.
The opening event of 2023 gets underway on Good Friday ahead of races on both Saturday and Sunday, marking the start of the 11 round season ahead.
Fleetwood-based McAMS Yamaha has won a whopping 37 races over the last three seasons, more than any other team in the championship, and while 2021 champion Tarran Mackenzie has moved on, series and now team stalwart Jason O’Halloran remains with the squad for the season ahead and is eager to add to the 21 race wins he’s scored for the Raceways Motorcycles effort.
Those 21 victories mark O’Halloran as the most successful rider in British Superbikes over the last three seasons, but bad luck has seen the title evade him for the last two years in the ‘Showdown’ format.
The championship system has been altered by series organisers for 2023 to better reward consistency across the entire season, with the points on offer across the first eight rounds now contributing more to the final result.
Over the first eight rounds, points will be awarded on a sliding scale for the top fifteen as follows: 18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. These then ramp up for the final three rounds to maintain the crescendo of competition the British Superbike Championship has become famous for, with 25 points available for a win at Rounds 9 and 10 and 35 points per race up for grabs in the Brands Hatch finale. The rider with the most points across the season wins!
Joining O’Halloran in McAMS Yamaha’s first line-up change since 2019 is BSB rookie Tim Neave, who earned his spot in the squad following a sterling campaign for the Edwards 1902 Yamaha effort in the National Superstock class last year. Neave had been leading the stock championship by a healthy margin when he suffered a badly broken pelvis in an accident which was no fault of his own in testing at Knockhill.
Neave underwent a shakedown test on the superbike in Spain prior to Christmas, but conditions at the Donington Park and Silverstone official tests mean his only laps pre-season have been in the wet.
Despite the wet conditions, both Neave and O’Halloran were comfortable on the R1 and leading the development of the bike, O’Halloran felt a noticed improvement in the areas the team have been focusing on during the winter.
A revised engine-spec for 2023 will need some dry running before final sign off from the Aussie, but he clocked a noticeable improvement in the wet.
“It will be nice to finally get going this season after testing was pretty much a washout! I’m feeling really good, it’s been one of the best winters I’ve had in terms of preparation for a season, so I can’t wait to roll down pit lane for free practice one. Even though the tests were wet, what was reassuring was I jumped on the bike for a few hours at Silverstone and even though conditions weren’t ideal, I felt good and was able to lap competitively with the others even after not really riding the superbike since Brands last year! The early signs are we’ve made some improvements with the bike, especially the engine, and from the laps we did at Silverstone the guys have been able to refine that further so I’m really excited to try it in what looks like dry conditions this weekend. After the last three years we’ve had, we can’t pretend we’d be happy to walk away from Silverstone with anything other than three strong results fighting at the front. Three wins would be the ideal goal, but they don’t come easy in BSB!”
“I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this weekend. The weather impacted all of our testing and I didn’t do a single lap in dry conditions, but all things considered I felt more comfortable each time I rode the bike in the wet and at Silverstone we weren’t too far off in terms of lap time – my last lap of the test was actually quite strong but unfortunately it didn’t count as the red flag came out as I crossed the line. Silverstone has always been a strong circuit for me and the R1 has had some incredible results at Silverstone in recent years so I’m hoping we can get off to a strong start. It’s difficult as with being a rookie I don’t want to place a number on where I want to be, but if we can get off to a strong start, keep learning and improving in every session then I’ll be happy!”
“There is a great buzz around the team ahead of this season, everybody is itching to get started! On paper, we are the most successful team in the championship over the last three seasons with 37 wins and a shed load more podiums, so we are no doubt in a strong position heading into the season. There are a few changes with Tim replacing Tarran, and that adds a new dynamic to our team as in the past two seasons we’ve had two proven frontrunners while now we’ve got our proven frontrunner in Jason and Tim as a rookie. The goal for Jason is the same as it has been for the last four years – to win the championship! We know he’s capable, he’s won more races than anyone else in the last three seasons and we have hopefully taken another step with the bike to help him along the way. There’s no pressure on Tim, we want him to take each session as it comes and improve throughout the year. These Superbikes are a different kettle of fish, so he needs to learn to walk before he can run but we know he’s capable, so I’m confident he can have a strong year.”