Jason O’Halloran claimed his first pole position of the season in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with the McAMS Yamaha rider getting the better of RICH Energy OMG Yamaha duo Bradley Ray and Kyle Ryde at Donington Park on Saturday.
The opening 12-minute Q1 session saw Josh Brookes, Tom Sykes, Ryan Vickers, Storm Stacey, Tarran Mackenzie and Chrissy Rouse all progress in to the main Q2 where it was Ray who was quickest out the blocks.
He posted a 1’05.293s on his first flying lap and that put him almost half a second clear of teammate Ryde with Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW), Lee Jackson, Glenn Irwin and Rory Skinner in hot pursuit.
Next time around and O’Halloran split the two RICH Energy machines to make it three Yamahas in the top three and that quickly became four as reigning champion Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) slotted into fourth. However, Andrew Irwin was out having crashed the Synetiq BMW at McLeans.
At the mid-way point, a big change in the leaderboard came with Sykes finally showing some form as he moved up to third on the MCE Ducati and soon after, O’Halloran bumped Ray down to second as he lapped at 1’05.289s to go just 0.004s clear.
Ryde moved up to third on his sixth lap and the two Kawasakis of Jackson and Skinner then went fourth and sixth quickest, with Sykes the filling in the sandwich in fifth. Skinner then overhauled both of them to go fourth.
There were to be no further changes at the top of the leaderboard and so it was a Yamaha lock-out with O’Halloran, Ray and Ryde filling the front row positions ahead of Skinner, Jackson and Hickman who pushed Sykes back to seventh at the chequered flag.
Mackenzie, Glenn Irwin and Ryan Vickers rounded out the top ten with Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) in 11th but Brookes was unable to replicate his earlier pace, lapping three tenths of a second slower in Q2 than what he had done in Q1 to end up 16th, one place behind fellow Ducati man Tommy Bridewell.