Jason O’Halloran concluded the European testing tour at Portimao on top of the timing sheets following a late surge of pace on his McAMS Yamaha.
O’Halloran posted a lap-time of 1:43.600 in the final 10 minutes of the session to end the fifth and final day in first position. His time was +0.127s quicker than Scott Redding on the Be Wiser Ducati. Xavi Fores completed the top three on the Honda.
The team’s European testing tour included three days at Monteblanco, Spain, before heading across to Portugal and the Portimao circuit – a circuit which O’Halloran had no prior experience of.
The Australian had to learn the track, as well as continuing the team’s rigorous testing plan. After a slow start to proceedings, he eventually got into his groove and managed to post the fastest lap on the final day.
Afterwards, O’Halloran commented:
“Testing has been really good. We had a good few days at Monteblanco and then came here to a track I’m not so familiar with and have spent the last couple of days refining the bike. We had a bit of an issue with the bike yesterday and today so the boys changed a few things and that improved the lap time immediately and my feeling was back to normal.
“I managed a pretty good lap time towards the end of the day with a new set of tyres, but more importantly I’m happy with the feeling on the bike on both new and used tyres as well as at multiple circuits.”
On the other side of the garage, Tarran Mackenzie was still recovering from his high-side at Monteblanco last Thursday. He to had no circuit experience at Portimao and, after suffering from a bout of flu, decided to end the test early having tested all of the team’s new parts, including a revised frame, new swinging arm and new forks from Ohlins.
Despite his early exit, Mackenzie would still end the test in 12th overall, with a quickest lap-time of 1:45.106. Despite his problems, Mackenzie is still pleased with the progress that the bike has made. He said:
“The test in Monteblanco was nice to blow the cobwebs off and get back to it. Portimao is a new track for me but I really enjoyed learning it and seeing that the things we tried and tested at Monteblanco worked here too. I ended the final day at lunch time as I’d tested everything we wanted to try and my body doesn’t feel great after the Monteblanco crash.
“The bike is in a really good position, it’s moved on a lot since last season and the changes have worked at three different tracks now so it sets us up nicely for Silverstone.”
Meanwhile, Matt Truelove ended the test in 15th place for the Raceways Yamaha team – a satellite set-up to the factory-backed McAMS Yamaha squad. Truelove is continuing to adapt to the superbike-spec machine and was only +2.369 off O’Halloran’s time.
Speaking about his first test, Truelove said:
“I instantly felt better with the bike at Portimao and we made quite a few changes over the last two days on track and learned a lot about the R1. It’s nice to be closer to the front, we took a big chunk off the gap here compared to Monteblanco but we need to continue working to take even more off it as the season begins so we can look at achieving some decent results this year.”
The Bennetts British Superbike teams will now return to the UK ahead of the official test at Silverstone on 9 April . The season then gets underway at the same circuit on 19-21 April.