Jason O’Halloran got his Bennetts British Superbike Championship challenge back on track on Saturday afternoon as he claimed pole position for the opening race of the weekend at Donington Park.
The McAMS Yamaha rider came from Q1 into Q2 where he got the better of championship leader Bradley Ray (Rich Energy OMG Yamaha) and Tom Sykes (MCE Ducati).
Sykes, O’Halloran, Tom Neave (Honda Racing), Ryan Vickers (FHO BMW), Lee Jackson (Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki) and Chrissy Rouse (Crowe Performance BMW) were the riders to progress from Q1 but when the 12 minutes of Q2 got underway, it was Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) who made the initial running with a 1’29.337.
He was soon pushed to third by Glenn and Andrew Irwin, but it was O’Halloran who was the first in the 1’28s with a 1’28.994, although he was only there for a matter of seconds as Ray went quickest with a 1’28.811.
However, they were all upstaged by Sykes who went 0.230s clear with a strong lap of 1’28.581, which was also three tenths of a second inside the lap record. O’Halloran immediately responded though with a more impressive lap of 1’28.338s. That gave him an advantage of 0.243s.
With five minutes to go, Ray slotted into second, just 0.009s behind fellow Yamaha rider O’Halloran with Sykes now in third ahead of Ray’s teammate Kyle Ryde, Andrew Irwin (Synetiq BMW) and the Honda of elder brother Glenn, the six riders separated by three quarters of a second.
Peter Hickman (FHO BMW) moved up to fourth with less than three minutes to go, Andrew Irwin taking to the gravel trap at Redgate at the same time but there were to be no further changes and O’Halloran duly took his fourth pole position of the season and first since Thruxton in August.
Ray and Sykes joined him on the front row followed by Hickman, Ryde and Andrew Irwin with Glenn Irwin, Vickers, Jackson and the second MCE Ducati of Josh Brookes completing the top ten.