BSB heads to Knockhill after Jason O’Halloran recently topped testing on the new Fireblade SP2
Aussies on form as BSB heads to Knockhill but Leon Haslam is the man to beat
Honda Racing and Jason O’Halloran were back on top of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at a recent official test at Snetterton as the Australian set the pace ahead of this weekend’s fourth round at Knockhill.
In the afternoon session O’Halloran upped his pace despite the blustery conditions at the circuit where he claimed his first MCE BSB race win last year, to better his 2016 qualifying lap time at the Norfolk circuit on the new Honda Fireblade.
“It has been a really positive day for us here at Snetterton. We have continued with our work from Oulton Park where we had our first podium of the year and I felt much more comfortable and confident there. I felt good straight away and the team have done a fantastic job. It allowed us to work on the chassis today with a new component and that felt really good. We have also been working on the harder tyre and then made a good step too with the softer tyre too, so that will help us later in the year. It felt good to see P1 back on the pit board at this test and I feel that we are ready for Knockhill next weekend where we want to be fighting for more podiums!”
O’Halloran’s pace-setting lap was just 0.095s faster than the closing Be Wiser Ducati of Glenn Irwin as he returned to action in Norfolk with the local contenders RAF Reserves Kawasaki locking out third place with Jake Dixon.
Jason heads to Knockhill this weekend while currently lying sixth in the championship points standings.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Snetterton, Official Test
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 1m:48.297s
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.095s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Reserves Kawasaki) +0.316s
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.352s
- Jakub Smrz (Lloyd and Jones PR Kawasaki) +0.365s
- John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +1.217s
- Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +1.517s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +1.744s
- Billy McConnell (Quattro Plant FS-3 Kawasaki) +1.799s
- James Westmoreland (Gearlink Kawasaki) +1.848s
Josh Brookes back from TT and ready to tackle Knockhill on the Anvil Hire Yamaha YZF-R1M
Returning to short circuit action this weekend Josh Brookes travels to Scotland following a successful Isle of Man TT, where the Bringelly man joined the illustrious 130 club, notching up his, and Norton’s best ever lap around the TT course in the Senior race.
Brookes heads to Knockhill sitting fourth in the Championship standings on 67 points, and is expecting a large points haul in Fife, as he hunts down the Championship leader Leon Haslam.
The 1.3 mile Knockhill circuit always throws up the very best and exciting racing, with its flowing nature, teamed with elevation changes, every corner has the potential for overtaking making it the most exciting round on the calendar. Brookes has previously celebrated seven podium finishes at the Knockhill layout.
“As we finished up at Oulton Park I wasn’t happy with the results and we needed to focus on making the bike a little better. This weekend we have the presence of Stuart Winton, who was my crew chief in 2015, so he’s giving us a hand and will help us in the right direction with the bike. Things to need to improve with the machine, if we look at the results from the last round it’s not what I’m used to achieving in the MCE British Superbike Championship, it’s important that we focus on the areas of the bike that are requiring improvement, and I’m ready to see what changes the team have made. Knockhill isn’t a circuit I look forward to racing at, it isn’t a bad layout, the lap is just too short. It’s a shame because the corners that are there are fun to ride, but it can get monotonous on a superbike. I want to like the track but I haven’t had the results there that I’m searching for, which leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve got to go there with the same outlook as every weekend, there all equally important and I’m hoping I can put things right at Knockhill and we can get some good results.”
Team Manager Gary Winfield
“It’s been a long summer break for us, well it’s not been a break because we’ve been working extremely hard behind the scenes, however it has been very successful for us. There’s has been a certain amount of progression on the areas that were identified that needed work. Although it’s slightly frustrating that we haven’t been able to get out and test the developments and move forward before Knockhill, but it was something out of our hands with Josh being at the TT. This makes Friday extremely important for us, both riders must start strong and everyone must pull together, which I’m sure they will. It’s always great to go back to Scotland, we hope the weather is kind to us because we as a team aren’t far away from that top spot, and this weekend we expect it to happen.”
While O’Halloran and Brookes are on form it is Leon Haslam that arrives at Knockhill as the man to beat
Leon Haslam – JG Speedfit Kawasaki
“I’m looking forward to this weekend; it has been a long time since the last race at Oulton Park with the break we have had and I have missed riding! I did have the wildcard ride in the World Championship and it felt good to be on the podium there. I think going from one spec to the other, it is easier coming back to BSB than when you go the other way because the limits of the bike are easier to find here where it is more down to the rider than the electronics and trusting them. The Snetterton test was frustrating for us as I only had a handful of laps, but I know that the team will be ready for Knockhill and we will come out fighting. I really like Knockhill and have some good memories there – I got my first win in the 125 Championship there, won race one last year and was leading race two until I had a problem with my visor. I love the track and coming off the last race at Oulton Park when I didn’t finish because of a crash, I want to bounce back. I think going into this weekend the main threat will be Shakey and the Ducati. The standings don’t show because he was out of the Donington races and then had the pace at Brands Hatch and then won at Oulton Park and the next the next two tracks they have tested at already. I believe they will come back strongly this weekend so it is down to us to carry on working hard and concentrate on what we need to do so that we are winning races again.”
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider holds a marginal three point advantage at the top of the standings following an impressive run of podium finishes in five of the six races so far this season. His momentum came to an abrupt end with a huge crash at Oulton Park last time out following a collision with a stricken James Ellison, but the Derbyshire contender has his sights firmly set on a victorious return this Sunday.
Haslam is coming under fire from the growing opposition and first in line is his team-mate Luke Mossey; the 24-year-old scored his first MCE BSB race win at Brands Hatch in April and is aiming to surge ahead this weekend.
Christian Iddon is yet to score his first race win in the Championship but with three podiums in as many rounds, the Tyco BMW rider is next up in the standings and pushing to become the fourth different race winner of the season.
Glenn Irwin is the first of the Be Wiser Ducatis in the overall standings ahead of this weekend and after scoring a strong second place last time out at Oulton Park he won’t be giving an inch as he bids to wrestle his way up the order.
Three points currently separate defending champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne from the top six but Haslam is counting on his nemesis to attack in Scotland following his first victory of the season at the third round. The Be Wiser Ducati rider has won seven of the last nine races at Knockhill and will be bidding to overhaul his rivals with two strong races on Sunday.
Smiths Racing BMW’s Peter Hickman, the McAMS Yamaha’s of James Ellison and Michael Laverty, Bennetts Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli and local contender Taylor Mackenzie plus Moto Rapido Ducati’s John Hopkins are all set to be in the mix too in Scotland.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 111
- Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 108
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) 86
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 67
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 63
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 61