BSB Brands Finale: ‘It’s hard to be happy’ - O’Halloran

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Picture: Impact Images

After dominating the Bennetts British Superbike Championship for the first eight rounds of the season, one couldn’t help but have a degree of sympathy for Jason O’Halloran ending the year in third overall, the quirks of the Showdown coming to the fore.

11 wins and eight more podiums in the main part of the season gave him a massive 106-point lead over McAMS Yamaha team-mate Tarran Mackenzie but with the points reset for the Showdown that was cut back to 30 although the form guide still put him in the driving seat.

However, his championship challenge immediately unravelled as the Showdown got underway and he never recovered from the two crashes he suffered at Oulton Park although he remained magnanimous and philosophical in defeat at the conclusion of Sunday’s racing at Brands Hatch.

After a difficult Donington Park, he could only manage 11th in qualifying for the first race at Brands although a strong ride saw him finish fourth before taking a brace of third finishes on the final day of the season. But his disappointment was, understandably, palpable at the end of a year which saw him ride better than at any other point in his career.

“Saturday’s race was difficult. It was never going to be easy starting on row four and we got into a bit of a battle in the early part of the race,” he said afterwards.

“When I managed to get through I struggled with a bit of grip so couldn’t quite chase down the front three. I gave it my all until the end and managed to take fourth place, which wasn’t ideal for the championship.”

O’Halloran again had to start from the fourth row for Sunday’s first race but a brilliant start put him into third at the end of the opening lap and although both his pace and grip were better, he didn’t quite have enough to go with Mackenzie and Tommy Bridewell.

Instead, he was locked in battle with Christian Iddon for much of the race before sealing third with two laps to go ending up 1.3s behind Mackenzie who clinched the title with his second win of the weekend.

O’Halloran’s final race of 2021 followed a similar pattern as he again battled with Iddon, and Danny Buchan in the closing stages, for the final podium position. At the start of the last lap, he lay in fifth, right in the wheel tracks of the duo in front of him but an over ambitious overtaking manoeuvre by Buchan saw both him and Iddon crash out.

That put O’Halloran in third which was where his finished in both the race and championship, the latter seeing him end the season 40 points adrift of Mackenzie when it had promised so much more.

“Sunday was better than Saturday but I’m obviously disappointed to lose the championship after being the fastest rider for two-thirds of the season and all the way up to the Showdown. The two crashes at Oulton really hurt my championship and I struggled at Donington so although I’ve been on the podium twice this weekend, it’s hard to be happy.

“At the same time, looking at the year as a whole, we’ve had a great year. 11 wins and 22 podiums and I secured my 50th BSB podium in race three, which is a nice way to end the season.

“Unfortunately, the showdown didn’t go our way, but that’s life, you have to accept it, take it on the chin, regroup and come back stronger. I’m always looking to improve so I’ll be busy over winter doing my homework, that’s for sure.”

Picture: Impact Images