Donington BSB: Yamaha’s O’Halloran draws first blood

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Picture: Impact Images

McAMS Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran drew first blood at Donington Park on Friday afternoon as the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship finally got underway.

The Australian lapped the 1.9-mile National Circuit in a time of 1m06.535s to end the first free practice session at the Leicestershire venue just 0.019s ahead of the Rich Energy/OMG Racing BMW of Hector Barbera. Andrew Irwin claimed third for Honda Racing.

With the air and track temperatures hitting 29.7 and 41.9 degrees respectively, it was a hot start to the opening round and it was Barbera who set the initial pace with a time of 1m07.108s as five BMW’s filled the top six places in the early stages.

Irwin pushed Barbera back to second 15 minutes into the session with a time of 1m07.028s , the Honda Racing rider continuing the good form he’d shown at the official test at the circuit last month, with Joe Francis doing likewise as he moved up briefly to fourth.

Half way through the session it was Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) who went quickest, just 0.005s quicker than Irwin as O’Halloran and Glenn Irwin also made good strides up the leaderboard. Kyle Ryde was another to be making a more than favourable impression as he moved up to sixth temporarily.

Moments later Buchan became the first rider to dip below the 1m07s mark with a lap of 1m06.954s but it was extremely tight with just 0.093s covering the top five riders. Indeed, he was only on top momentarily as O’Halloran posted an impressive 1m06.771s and the Australian continued to get quicker as the session progressed.

A number of laps in the 1m06s bracket saw him ultimately come out on top with Barbera moving up from sixth to second in the final moments to push Irwin back to third.

Josh Brookes and Buchan were the only other riders to dip into the 1m06s as they ended up in fourth and respectively with Glenn Irwin, Peter Hickman, Luke Mossey, Alex Olsen and Ryde completing the top ten.

Two of the championship favourites, Tommy Bridewell and Tarran Mackenzie, were back in 15th and 16th with two more expected front runners, Bradley Ray and Ryan Vickers directly behind them and more than a second adrift of O’Halloran.

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