Controversy and drama reigned at the end of the opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at Oulton Park when a coming together between Peter Hickman and Jason O’Halloran on the final lap resulted in the Australian barrel-rolling through the gravel trap and out of third place.
The McAMS Yamaha rider vented his frustration at Hickman on the slow down lap and when speaking later, was still fuming with the outcome of the race. Hickman was later excluded from the results, after finishing fourth, but that meant little to O’Halloran or team boss Steve Rodgers.
“I’m just so, so disappointed having worked all year to get in the Showdown only to get taken out in the first race by someone who’s not in it and by a rider who’s barely turned up all year. I’m gutted.
“I was lining up a pass on Tommy (Bridewell) and felt 20 points were going to be ours but ended up losing all of them. The guys gave me a great bike and I felt like I was riding well so to get cleaned out after working our balls off is, well, I’m gutted.”
Rodgers was left equally distraught by the incident which, with Bradley Ray winning the race, has left them with an uphill task if they’re to lift the BSB title once more.
“I can’t believe it and whilst it’s not something Peter normally does, I don’t know what he was thinking,” Rodgers said. “I’m sure Stuart (Higgs) is looking at it and will deal with it, but it doesn’t matter what they do – they can ban him from the sport - but we still won’t get any points back.”
“We’ll try our best tomorrow and there are still eight races to go in the Showdown but it’s difficult when something like this happens in the first race.”
Understandably, Hickman saw the incident differently and, prior to his exclusion, gave his take on events.
“First of all, apologies to Jason. I stopped on the cool down lap to say sorry but he was still revving. No one ever goes racing to take someone else out and I felt there was a gap there,” the FHO Racing man said.
“I was strong in that area of the track and he was weak and I felt I was close enough to make the pass. He left a gap and I felt like I was past his bike and was already turning into the corner when I felt the contact at the back of my bike”
“He’ll have his opinion and I have mine and people have already told me I shouldn’t have done it as I’m not in the championship fight. But I’m here to race and do my job. There was a gap there and the day you stop going for a gap is the day you stop being a racer.”