Pole and Podium for O’Halloran in Donington bounceback
Jason O’Halloran put in a heroic performance to bounce back from the disaster that was Oulton Park to take pole position and second place on Saturday at Donington Park.
After Friday’s washout, the track had just about dried for the final free practice and O’Halloran pushed on as they looked to perfect a set-up with the R1 at the Donington Park circuit. Ninth in the final session, the Aussie was quietly confident ahead of Qualifying.
The team viewed having to progress through Qualifying 1 an advantage as the track was in the best condition it had been in all weekend and O’Halloran was quickly up to speed, he was pipped in the session by Tom Sykes but progressed with ease placing second quickest.
It was in the final, Q2 session where O’Halloran’s heroics began to come to the fore as a time of 1’28.338 saw him storm to his fourth pole position of the season.
Feeling good for the race, he got a good launch but was a bit beaten up at turn one and Craner Curves, ending the first lap six. After finding his feet, O’Halloran began to pick through the pack moving up to third. After holding position for a while, he then made a pass on Bradley Ray with three laps to go, but wouldn’t quite have enough to chase down race leader Tom Sykes. Nevertheless, a strong second place was an incredible way to bounce back. He will start fifth on the grid for Sunday’s second race.
Tim Neave had his work cut out from 11th on the grid in the National Superstock race, but got his head down and persevered, fighting through to seventh. However, he crucially set the third quickest time of the race to earn a front row start for Sunday.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Donington Park GP, eBay Sprint Race:
Qualifying: 1st Race: 2nd
“I’m really happy with that, we came here not sure how I would be on the bike and practice was a nightmare with weather, so to get pole position after the week we’ve had was a real boost. The lap was quicker than I’ve ever been around here so it left me feeling confident for the race. I got a good start but unfortunately got a bit beat up in the early laps, but managed to recover and pick our way through to second. I felt really good on the bike and I think without the start we might have been able to take it to Tom so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Edwards 1902 Superstock
“I’m quite happy with that. I didn’t quite have the best qualifying which was frustrating but I was able to get my head down in the race and felt really good on the bike. My lap time was good, and that means I get to start on the front row tomorrow which is a huge boost. I’ll look to get a good start and see what we can do, but there’s no reason we can’t be fighting at the front.”
“It’s been a hell of a week for the whole team, Jason is battered and bruised and rode incredibly today. To take pole position was one thing, but then to put up that fight in the race, getting knocked back and coming back through the pack was incredible. I’m absolutely thrilled for him, he deserves it and we are feeling very confident for tomorrow.”
There was no fairy tale ending for the McAMS Yamaha team at Donington Park this weekend as Jason O’Halloran was unfortunately unable to build upon Saturday’s impressive pole position and second place in Sunday’s two races.
Confidence was high for race two despite O’Halloran riding battered and bruised, but a set-up change with the R1 proved unbeneficial and he struggled for rear grip throughout the 20 lap race. Losing places at the start, he was unable to pick through the pack until the closing stages when he made his way up to fifth but unfortunately got caught up at the final turn and dropped back to seventh.
Securing a front row start for the final race after setting the third quickest lap time despite his lack of grip, O’Halloran got a steady start in the final race of the weekend settling into fifth on the opening lap but a red flag brought the race to a halt at the end of the first circulation.
On the restart, he got a stronger launch and was sat in third before taking Brad Ray for second before making an attempt on Tom Sykes for the lead at Melbourne Loop. While the pass was successful, he ran wide on exit allowing Sykes back past and the lack of drive allowed Glenn Irwin to dive up the inside at Goddards. Losing another position, O’Halloran ended up in a scrap with Andrew Irwin but eventually broke free.
He would again attempt a pass on Sykes at Melbourne Loop, but in a little deep, his rear wheel came into the air and landed awkwardly, meaning he couldn’t stop for the corner and hit Sykes’ rear wheel in an uncharacteristic mistake. Launched off his R1, O’Halloran took another battering but was released from the medical centre shortly after the race. He’d taken a knock to his thumb, ankle and face but was otherwise OK. Sykes remained on his machine, but was forced to retire following the impact.
O’Halloran visited the double race winner immediately after leaving the medical centre to apologise to Sykes and his team, which was instantly accepted with the pair shaking hands.
Unable to capitalise on a front row start, Tim Neave finished eighth in the second National Superstock race.
Race 2: 7th Race 3: DNF
“Gutted doesn’t cover it. I’m really sorry to Tom and the PBM Team, they had a mega weekend and it certainly wasn’t my intention to hit him. This morning we went the wrong way with the bike and I had no rear grip but we made some changes for the final race and I was feeling really good. Unfortunately I went wide when I first took the lead and that led to me getting beat up a bit and I lost a lot of ground fighting with Andrew. The leaders were getting away so I wanted to get to them, I went for a pass on Tom and unfortunately the rear came up, I was in a little deep and when it landed it just meant I couldn’t avoid him. I’m glad he stayed on but very sorry to have ruined his race. Fortunately I’m okay, a bit more battered but we should be good for Brands.”
“When it rains it pours at the minute! We were hopeful for a strong Sunday after Jason’s performance on Saturday but it wasn’t meant to be. Fortunately he’s relatively OK as that was a nasty crash. It’s very uncharacteristic for Jason to make a mistake that results in contact with another rider, so we’re sorry to Tom and the PBM team for taking him out of the race on what has been a great weekend for them. The hard times make the good times feel better, so we’ll look to end the season on a high at Brands in two weeks time. Our thoughts are also with Chrissy Rouse, who we wish a quick and speedy recovery.”