Jason O’Halloran managed to salvage eighth in what was a challenging Bike Social Sprint Race on Saturday at Oulton Park while team-mate Luke Stapleford crashed out at the mid-race point despite having made strong progress early on.
O’Halloran’s side of the garage have been working hard through the opening days of the meeting to find a comfortable setting for the Aussie, with the lap time not coming as easily for the 26-time race winner as it has at Oulton Park in the past.
After qualifying seventh for the opening race of the weekend, the team made some quite significant changes to O’Halloran’s R1 in the race and while it gave him a lot more from the front end, an inexplicable issue with the rear of the bike made it difficult for O’Halloran to make progress. He would eventually cross the line in eighth place.
Having impressed so far in his one-off ride with the team, Luke Stapleford was looking forward to the race, which he’d start 15th after breaking into the 1’34s at Oulton Park for the first time in his career in Qualifying. He’d lose some places at the start to cross the line 19th on lap one, but made a remarkable recovery and was up into 13th by lap four. Looking comfortable, progression towards the top ten was on the cards but a small mistake at Shell Oils hairpin saw him crash out of the race unhurt.
PBM Ducati’s Glenn Irwin took the race win in a fitting tribute to team owner and friend of McAMS Yamaha Paul Bird, who tragically passed away earlier this month after a short illness.
O’Halloran now sits 66.5 points back in the championship hunt while his lap time from the opening race will see him start eighth with Stapleford lining up 13th.