Mackenzie edges tight qualifying session to take Silverstone Pole

by Joshua Close
Mackenzie takes Silverstone BSB Pole

Tarran Mackenzie edged out Jason O’Halloran and Scott Redding to take pole position for the opening race of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike season at Silverstone.

The McAMS Yamaha man was inside the top three in the opening two parts of qualifying but left his best until last, posting an unbeatable 53.549 in Qualifying 3.

The top three riders were covered by only +0.058s, with O’Halloran and Redding separated by just +0.004s.

The second-row is headed by the OMG Racing Suzuki duo of Josh Elliot (fourth) and Luke Mossey (fifth). They’ll be joined by Dan Linfoot on the Santander Salt TAG Racing machine. There are three Yamaha bikes on the first two rows of the grid.

Tommy Bridewell will line-up in seventh, alongside Christian Iddon on the Tyco BMW and Luke Stapleford on the Buildbase Suzuki. There were no Kawasaki riders inside the top 11, whilst the next BMW rider after Iddon was Keith Farmer – down in 20th.

There was drama a few minutes into Qualifying 1 as Josh Brookes pulled off the circuit with smoke coming from his V4 Ducati, with the red flag coming out as a result. Oil had spilled onto the circuit, with marshals on the scene within seconds to begin the clean up operation. Such was the damage, Brookes was unable to get back out again and will start tomorrow’s opening race down in 18th.

The bikes returned to the circuit with around 13 minutes remaining on the clock, with Mossey eventually topping the opening session with a lap-time of 54.002. Redding was second, only +0.049s behind, with Mackenzie completing the top three.

Xavi Forés left it extremely late to make it through, going 18th after the timer hit zero to knock Ben Currie (19th) out of proceedings. Some big names would fail to make it through to Qualifying 2, including Peter Hickman (21st) and James Ellison (26th).

The other riders who failed to make it through were; Farmer (20th), Sylvain Barrier (22nd), Matt Truelove (23rd), Joe Francis (24th), Shaun Winfield (25th), Dean Harrison (27th), Fraser Rogers (28th), Dean Hipwell (29th) and James Hillier in 30th.

In to Qualifying 2 and the lap-times would drop into the 53’s immediately, with Linfoot setting an early benchmark of 53.918. He would be dethroned by O’Halloran, who ended the middle part of qualifying on top with a 53.821. Mackenzie slotted into second, with Linfoot in third. Only +0.097 covered the top three.

Qualifying 2 proved to be the end of the road for both Honda Racing riders, with Andrew Irwin in 10th and Forés in 11th. They were joined in the drop zone by Claudio Corti (12th), Ryan Vickers (13th), Danny Buchan (14th), Glenn Irwin (15th), Bradley Ray (16th) and David Allingham on the EHA Yamaha in 17th.

The all important Qualifying 3 session was a seven-minute shootout for pole position. The early benchmark was set by Stapleford, with a lap-time of 54.696.

This was beaten comfortably by Mackenzie, who posted a 53.676 on his first flying lap of the final shootout. He would go even quicker on his next lap, posting the 53.549 pole lap.

Behind him, O’Halloran was putting in lap after lap to try and knock his team-mate off top spot, but to no avail. Redding was also putting in long runs, but he too was unable to knock Mackenzie off the top.

The opening race of the 2019 BSB season is scheduled to begin at 13:30 tomorrow (Easter Sunday).

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