The scorching Thruxton weekend began with action as hot as the weather as Jason O’Halloran collected his sixth win of the season, while a photo finish was needed to confirm second.
Round six saw O’Halloran in dominant form again at Thruxton – last season the Australian took all three race wins at the track.
The McAMS Yamaha rider is in good form this season too, with a win and two podiums under his belt at the last round at Brands Hatch he moved into the championship lead ahead of Bradley Ray.
The #22 was fastest after practice and converted that into blistering pole pace. He did not, however, go trouble free in the race, first having Honda of Glenn Irwin to deal with before the BMW of Peter Hickman kept him in check out front.
After getting the better of that duo he soon found himself with a pair of equally powered Yamahas for company.
For O’Halloran, the start of the race echoed back to the same round last year:
‘It was a bit of deja vu at the start of the race, I think Glenn (Irwin) did the same thing last year , wanted to get in front and set the pace, but I wanted to lead’.
The ‘O Show’ felt that he could have had an easier time of it had he pushed harder earlier, but in the heat tyre wear was a concern:
‘I didn’t really know how fast to go, in hindsight I probably should have went a bit faster in the first half of the race, but you never know what the tyre is going to do in the end.
Worryingly for the competition, O’Halloran found that running at the front for so long, he learned a few things that will help him for the two full length races on Sunday.
Mackenzie wins battle for second
Behind a war to the line raged on, with just a tiny 0.003s separating his team-mate Tarran Mackenzie and Bradley Ray.
Both riders had needed to put on a charge to get O’Halloran back in their sights and pass both Irwin and Hickman en route.
After an entertaining battle, which contributed to the Australian’s break at the front, it was defending champion Mackenzie who led over a line with a final lap so close a photo finish was needed to confirm the result.
Ray qualified fifth and Mackenzie sixth, leading to the need to power forward. Mackenzie added:
‘I didn’t get the best of starts really, I was stuck in behind ‘Hickey’ for a few laps, saw Brad got by and chased Jason down’.
Their battle then went all the way to the wire, with the pair opening their visors and shaking their heads and laughing after they crossed the line:
‘Battling right down to the last chicane, it’s not often you can out drag someone down to the line here, so happy for another MCAMS 1-2’.
Ray ready for Sunday after finishing third.
Rich Energy OMG rider Bradley Ray was the third rider home after that battle but knew that despite not shining in qualfying, he had the pace and a plan to run with the leaders:
‘All weekend I seemed to have fairly good race pace… I knew that if I was patient at the start I’d be able to be there at the end. Qualifying was a little bit of a disappointment as I felt like I could have had a front row start, or a little bit further up, but overall I was happy with the pace.
My plan was to make a move on the last couple of laps as I felt I was able to do that, into T3 or the last corner, but me and Taz got into a little bit of a battle which let Jason get away’.
‘It’s nice to get the elbows out very now and again!’
Much like Tarran Mackenzie, Ray relished in the on track fight:
‘Its brilliant, I love battling, that’s all part of racing. It’s nice to lead a race and go off at the front but it’s nice to get the elbows out every now and again and fight for a podium!’
Where does that leave the championship?
O’Halloran picked up the maximum 25 points taking his title lead tally to 290. ray was 10 points adrift and now has 19 to make up after his third place. All the top eight in the showdown slots remained unchanged following the sprint race result, but as his comeback continues Tarran Mackenzie now has the joint third most podium points on 16, with only O’Halloran (40) and ray (31) ahead of him.
Glenn Irwin got ahead of Peter Hickman in the latter part of the race, the top Honda finisher in fourth, with Hickman the best of the BMw’s in fifth after he correctly predicted that despite his qualifying performance that he would not be able to keep up with the Yamahas, who continue to dominate the 2022 season.
Lee Jackson remains third overall after his solid sixth for Cheshire Holdings FS-3 Kawasaki, a position he held all race.
Rory Skinner needed to get his British Superbike head back on after a run out in Moto2 at Silverstone last weekend, which he did climbing to seventh behind his team-mate.
VisionTrack’s Leon Haslam was eighth to finish – not enough yet to see him challenge for the Showdown places, and Tom Sykes was the best of the Ducati’s in ninth, just his third best result in a difficult season.
Tommy Bridewell completed the top ten for Oxford Products Ducati.
Ryan Vickers brought his BMW home in eleventh, for his first points since Knockhill after a string of retirments and a DNS.
Buildbase Suzuki’s Christian Iddon kept Kyle Ryde (Rich Energy OMG racing Yamaha) at bay for twelfth.
The remaining points went to Danny Buchan in 14th for SYNETIQ BMW Motorrad and Ryo Mizuno in 15th for Honda.
16th placed Tom Neave made up the most places in the race, gaining eleven positions on the Honda to just miss out on the points.
Tito Rabat found the going enjoyable but tough on his debut BSB outing, the last of the finishers in 26th for TAG Honda.
Luke Mossey moved to iForce BMW to accommodate him at Honda, he failed to finish after crashing on the first lap along with Chrissy Rouse, who had already experienced bike issues before the start of the race.
James East and Danny Kent also failed to finish.