Challenging weather conditions made for a tricky opening day as the 11th round of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike championship got underway at Donington Park.
Constant drizzle meant for a wet opening session and with rain forecast for Sunday, the McAMS Yamaha riders were eager to get out to test a wet-setting with the YZF-R1 as well as the new, harder Pirelli rear wet.
Uncomfortable with the harder tyre, Mackenzie ended the session 14th quickest while team-mate Jason O’Halloran was 12th having tried both the new tyre and a new component while Matt Truelove slipped off in the early stages at McLeans, later returning to the track after a speedy effort from the team to fix his machine. He rounded the session out 24th overall.
It had looked as though FP2 would be dry, but a sudden shower just as machines rolled out of pit lane put pay to that. Waiting to see what the weather would do, all three riders headed out on the wet track towards the middle of the session, returning to the pits before the end as the track started to dry in places leaving increasingly tricky conditions.
Jason O’Halloran, who tested a setting with the front that took them in the wrong direction, rounded out the session 12th. Completing just seven laps in the session as he chose to avoid the risk at the end of the session, Mackenzie was 13th while Truelove sat 15th overall.
Pos: 12th Time: 1’42.168
“Tricky conditions today! We got out there and did some laps as we had some new parts to test, which we put in for the last run in FP2. It was really positive and I really liked what we tried, we also tried a different setting today that didn’t quite work but we persevered with it through both sessions to get some data and knowledge, but tomorrow we’ll go back to what we know works and hopefully be able to put it all together.”
Pos: 14th Time: 1’42.595
“Conditions were up and down. In the wet this morning I felt really strong, this afternoon it dried out quite a bit towards the end so I didn’t feel as comfortable pushing as I didn’t see the point when conditions were like that. There are no points for free practice and I didn’t want to end up on the floor. The main thing is if it’s wet for the rest of the weekend I feel confident and if it’s dry we have a good base setting here from earlier in the year so I’m feeling confident.”
Pos: 15th Time: 1’42.653
“Today was a bit of a waste as the times don’t really show a lot as conditions were so hit and miss – not one or the other. I had a little slip off this morning at McLeans, I don’t know what happened as the rear just came around on me, a bit of a typical Donington Park crash which leaves you puzzled to be honest! I felt good in the wet, so we’ll see what the weather does for the rest of the weekend.”
“The timesheets don’t look great but the conditions made it tough today. We could easily be sitting here putting bikes back together after a cold, wet October day at Donington Park but the bikes are in one piece, the riders are in one piece and we actually learned a lot, especially with Jason who tried some new parts and found them beneficial. We’ll crack on tomorrow and hopefully be further up the timesheets! Fingers crossed the weather holds off but it looks like it could be up and down all weekend.”