Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran showed he was back on form as the seventh round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship took place at Thruxton in Hampshire, with blistering temperatures across race day.
‘The O’Show’ started race one in tenth place, but it wasn’t long until he was carving through the pack aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. Over the 20 laps the Aussie continually made up places and demonstrated superb tyre-life management at the abrasive and fast 2.3-mile circuit.
On the final lap the podium was calling as the Honda rider had made his way into third position. However, coming into Club Chicane O’Halloran was run wide and off-track by another rider and as a result lost places, crossing the line to take sixth place.
With the bit between his teeth for the second race, and getting a good start from eighth, he again made his way up through the front pack into third place. A near coming together into the final chicane on lap six caused the Aussie to take evasive action to avoid contact with another rider, and in the drama O’Halloran cut the corner of the chicane.
Suffering a time penalty and dropping back places after the move, he crossed the line again in sixth place and picked up a further ten points towards his championship challenge. After the weekend O’Halloran is tenth in the overall championship standings with 86 points and is 25 points adrift of the top-six.
Meanwhile teammate Tom Neave had a steep learning curve as he made his BSB debut. Showing good pace and impressing with his attitude, Neave made solid progress in both races from his starting positions. Unfortunately the 23-year old had both races end prematurely after crashing out while trying to make further progress, he was unhurt from the falls.
Battling against tough track and temperature conditions, it was a successful weekend for the McAMS Yamaha Superbike duo of Josh Brookes and Tarran Mackenzie as the mercury rose at Thruxton. Matt Truelove was unlucky to be taken out of a strong position in the Pirelli Superstock 1000 class whilst Ryan Vickers continued his domination of the Superstock 600 class on his Mototechniks Yamaha.
With three days of high temperatures forecast, it quickly became apparent that tyre strategy would be the most crucial element at this high speed, abrasive circuit. Consequently both Superbike riders experimented with the six different options of Pirelli slicks made available, to balance outright lap times against long run durability.
Qualifying was a tale of the two sides of the garage as Josh progressed through the three knock out sessions, whilst it was disaster for Tarran as he suffered a technical problem early in the first session, meaning he had to start from the final grid position. Josh left it till the very last moment of Q3 to pull out a stunning lap to go fourth on the grid.
With track temperatures in the 40’s and a 20 lap race ahead of him, Josh knew he would have to manage his chosen Soft rear tyre from the off. He bided his time then with four laps to go, caught the two leaders (Haslam and Dixon) and readied for a podium challenge. Before he could strike, fellow Australian Jason O’Halloran overtook him and the two tangled going into the final chicane. A fourth place finish wasn’t as hoped for and the team set about gearing changes for race two. With more top end speed, Josh took the lead on lap seven and powered away for a dominant victory, his 39th in British Superbikes. He now sits in third place with 16 podium credits.
For Superbike Rookie Tarran, it was a mountain to climb from last place on the ultra-competitive BSB grid but in true Taz form he set about battling through the pack from the start. Up to eighth by lap 12 he was embroiled in a great three way battle with some seasoned campaigners, before ending ninth. His fastest lap put him in seventh for race two and he made a great getaway to again progress through the field. His eventual fifth place was impressive and only a mere half a second from the podium. The fast learning youngster continues to impress and push up the BSB standings and is now up to twelfth place.
Matt Truelove had his best qualifying performance with seventh in the Pirelli Superstock 1000 class and was optimistic about his race pace. Come race day Matt was circulating in seventh but was taken out on lap four, falling uninjured.
The unstoppable Ryan Vickers continued his incredible run in the Pirelli Superstock 600 class taking yet another win on his Mototechniks Yamaha YZF-R6. The Norfolk rider now comfortably leads the series by a full 50 points.
Josh Brookes said; “We were a little short geared in the opening race and I was running out of top speed so we made some changes for race two. We had more top end and had to ride differently through the corners but it was a good compromise. I’m thrilled to celebrate another victory and take these important podium credits.”
Tarran Mackenzie said; “We wanted to carry on the momentum from Brands and despite having to start from the back of the grid I think we achieved that. We used the harder rear tyre most of the way through the event which I think helped us concentrate on good set-up. Race two felt like it could have been a podium but I was also right on the limit so I’m happy with fifth. It’s only my seventh Superbike event so it’s been a great learning curve so far.”
Matt Truelove said; “We had our best pace of the year so far so it’s really gutting to be wiped out by someone else’s problem. We definitely had front running speed and I know we could have been up there at the end. I’m unhurt and I’ll push on again at Cadwell.”
Ryan Vickers explained; “That was a really fun race, obviously the tyres were destroyed and we were really sideways through the turns. I tried to control it from the front but had to fend off a couple of attacks to take the win.”
Team Manager Grant Bunting summed up; “It’s been a really positive meeting for us, Tarran’s qualifying problem aside. The team and riders got to grips with these tricky conditions from the off and aimed for slightly different strategies which worked out through the race duration for both Superbike riders. I’m gutted for Matt as he had great pace but was caught out by someone else’s mistake.
It was great to celebrate Josh’s victory and Taz’s strong ride with the large travelling contingent of McAMS staff and we look to build on these results at Cadwell Park in a fortnight.”