Jason O’Halloran will start tomorrow’s opening Bennetts British Superbike race from eighth on the grid after a rain-interrupted qualifying session at Thruxton, while team-mate Tarran Mackenzie will be out of action after sustaining a fracture to his left wrist.
The team were quietly confident ahead of qualifying with O’Halloran having been in the mix throughout the weekend. The Aussie finished the third and final free practice session sixth quickest ahead of the afternoon’s three-stage knock-out qualifying.
Having only used one tyre in each of the three practice sessions, Mackenzie hadn’t shown his card so despite rounding out practice 12th on the timesheets, the young gun was hopeful of securing a strong position on the grid for Sunday’s opening race. However, qualifying would be short-lived for the #95, who high-sided out in the early stages of Q1.
Things got off to a strong start for O’Halloran, who set his quickest lap of the weekend so far to sit comfortable in sixth position. He’d then improve this lap in Q2, but dropping down the order slightly he opted to head back out with a fresh tyre just to be sure.
Making it through to Q3 in ninth place, things would become a little more complicated as the rain started coming down. Despite a delayed start, brief rain showers made the 12-minute session a little chaotic. Without fresh rubber to challenge the front runners, the Aussie set the eighth fastest time in Q3 and will start tomorrow’s first race from the third row of the grid.
Rookie Matt Truelove qualified 20th with an impressive time of 1’15.819. He will start the race 19th given team-mate Mackenzie’s absence.
Taken to the medical centre after his off, Mackenzie was diagnosed with a fracture to his left radius and ruled unfit for Sunday’s races. He will attend the fracture clinic on Monday morning for further assessment and hopes to be back on his YZF-R1 as soon as possible.
Pos: 8th Time: 1’15.904
“It’s always hard around here as you only have a lap or two to get your lap time in and if you miss it a bit or get held up and you don’t get that ideal lap you’re further down the grid. It was tight in Q2, I was in sixth so I had to go back out and use the second tyre as I’d have been mad at myself if I didn’t and we missed out. We didn’t have to use it in the end but better to be safe than sorry. That left us with a used tyre for Q3 and there was a bit of rain. The lap times were quite fast for the conditions, it was a bit daunting but I felt good on the bike. I’ve made good progress over the weekend, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Two 20 lappers around here make for long races, so you have to be patient and see where we are at the end.”
“I had a good feeling this morning in FP3. I didn’t put any new tyres in during any of the sessions, so qualifying was the first time I’ve really lit it up for a lap. The first lap was OK but I didn’t have the best feeling from the rear, the bike came right round on me at the Complex as I went back to the throttle. It was a weird crash; I haven’t had a moment there all weekend and it just spat me over the handlebars. I held on to it, which probably broke the wrist, but other than that I am OK. We’ll see the fracture clinic on Monday and see what they think and go from there.”
Pos: 20th Time: 1’15’819
“I’m happy with that, it’s great to have got in the 1’15s as that was our aim when we started the day. The bike is feeling good and I’m looking forward to the races tomorrow. As we said before the weekend, the aim is to score our first points of the year as we’ve been close at the last couple of rounds. The races are long here and you have to be patient to ensure you don’t use too much tyre, so we’ll see how it goes.”
“Motorbike racing is a difficult game. It’s a huge shame to see Taz out this weekend as his pace on used tyres was really impressive and we were confident of two strong rides tomorrow, but that’s how it goes. We’ll see what the fracture clinic says on Monday and see when we can get him back on the bike. It was a good day for Jason, that qualifying session was really tough with the rain so things were a bit chaotic, a third row start isn’t too bad so we’ll see what he can do tomorrow. After the bad luck he’s had recently two solid top five finishes would be great.”