HONDA BUCK AND WEAVE TO THE BSB PODIUM
Honda duo back on podium but can the Fireblade really run with its rivals?
Dan Linfoot and Jason O’halloran continued to be the surprise package of the 2016 MCE British Superbike season aboard the Fireblade at Donington Park, with both riders taking podium finishes from Sunday’s races.
A second place for Linfoot in race two saw him move third in the standings, just 26 points behind Leon Haslam, while O’halloran took a strong third in the opening race.
However, while both Linfoot and O’halloran were able to display an impressive pace, the gap between the eight-year-old Honda and the latest offerings from Ducati and Kawasaki is becoming more apparent.
While the Louth-based team have made big steps forward with the bike, mainly with how it puts the power to the ground, to make it one of the quickest accelerating bikes on the grid, its lack of stability in comparison to its rivals means both Linfoot and O’halloran are close to the absolute limit each time they go out.
O’halloran crashed twice in one session as he searched to find a set-up to suit the flowing Donington Park Grand Prix circuit on Friday, an unusual occurrence for the ultra-consistent Aussie, while both riders struggled with the bike sliding too much on their Superpole laps.
“I do feel I’m having to ride harder on this bike around the likes of Shakey and Haslam than what I’d like to,” Linfoot told MCN after his second race podium. “That is in no way disrespectful to the Fireblade, but it spins and slides quite a lot and while that’s great fun for riding, it’s not necessarily always fast.
“If we can get it to stick to the floor that bit more and push forward rather than spin, I think we could be so much better and bridge the gap to the front. Hopefully that’s something we can find. It would be good to find it before the end of the season, or if I stay with the team, hopefully it’s something that will be fixed with the new bike.”
The current bike with the undisputed talents of both O’halloran and Linfoot forms a combination more than capable of finishing on the podium as has been proved 12 times this year. However, as the title fight heats up with just five races remaining it could prove difficult for the Honda Racing duo to take to the top step without mistakes from the leading duo.
It was a difficult weekend all-round for O’halloran despite taking to the podium in the opening race. After three crashes on Friday, he could only manage ninth on the grid for the first race but things got worse in the second outing as he crashed out after contact with Peter Hickman down Craner Curves, resulting in just his second DNF of the year.
“The Showdown is great but it’s really hurt us today,” he said. “I’ve been third in the championship all year and had a good gap until the Showdown changed that and after today I’m now fifth.
“It’s frustrating to be taken out by someone not in the Showdown, as that’s cut my chances dramatically after a year of hard work.”
‘It spins and slides and while that’s great fun, it’s not always fast’ DAN LINFOOT
O’halloran’s Honda holds off BMW man Christian Iddon at Donington Park