Jason O’Halloran claimed his third Bennetts British Superbike Championship pole position of the 2021 season as the McAMS Yamaha ace edged out Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) and Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) at Donington Park on Saturday afternoon, the trio covered by just 0.105s.
Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha), Andrew Irwin (Synetiq BMW), Gino Rea (Buildbase Suzuki), Dan Linfoot (TAG Racing Honda) and the Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW duo of Kyle Ryde and Bradley Ray were the riders to make it through from Q1 – Mackenzie setting the first sub 1’06 lap of the weekend – but then it was time for the main Q2 session where Glenn Irwin set the early running with a superb 1’05.751 on the Honda Racing Fireblade.
He was the only rider below 1’06 in the early stages but Mackenzie and Andrew Irwin soon joined him, as they benefited from the additional track time in Q1.
Hickman quickly moved up to second with a 1’05.868 putting him 0.117s behind Glenn Irwin whilst Mackenzie and O’Halloran weren’t far behind. Indeed, Mackenzie was soon back up into second having closed the gap to Irwin to 0.096s.
The top five riders were all below the 1’06 barrier with Ryde and Rea slotting into sixth and the seventh, the duo also having progressed from Q1.
With five minutes to go, Hickman went quickest with a lap of 1’05.656 which put him 0.086s ahead of Irwin as Mackenzie, Andrew Irwin and O’Halloran continued to occupy third to fifth.
The latter moved up to third with three minutes to go at the expense of his team-mate as just two-tenths of a second covered the leading five riders but the Australian wasn’t done there and next time around he went quickest by the slender margin of 0.019s with a lap of 1’05.637.
That time was good enough for pole position, and he was joined on the front row by Hickman and Glenn Irwin with Mackenzie, Andrew Irwin and Ray filling the second row positions.
Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati), Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati), Ryde and Rea completed the top ten but Josh Brookes was unable to continue the renaissance from Friday and ended up 15th, albeit only 0.658s adrift of O’Halloran.