EXCLUSIVE Interview with Jason O’Halloran: Why BSB 2021 is primed to be HIS year

Visordown speaks with McAMS Yamaha rider Jason O’Halloran about the 2021 BSB season, his preparations, and the young guns coming through this year!

Jason OHalloran interview 2021 BSB McAMS Yamaha

Jason O’Halloran finished as runner up in a somewhat unconventional BSB season altered by a certain pandemic… we had the chance to have a quick chat with him at a recent track day at Snetterton with Yamaha, and spoke about how it’s going for the upcoming 2021 season.

Could this be his year? Will the young guns prove to be a problem for the veterans over the 11 rounds of BSB action in the UK? Will the new Showdown rules shake things up further? Round 1 of the 2021 BSB season starts at Oulton Park, on the 25th-27th of June.

Top 10 Best Sportsbikes of 2021 | Visordown.com

VISORDOWN: Thanks for taking the time Jason! First of all, you’ve come off a pretty good season for McAMS Yamaha as BSB runner up last season, how are the preparations going? Are you going into the new season feeling fresh and thinking ‘this is the year’?

Jason: Yeah, I think it’s the first season in a long time - probably since 2016 - when I had a really good year. But, that time I went into the following year with a new bike where I was, and in the end it didn’t happen how it should have happened.

Now I look at 2020, similar sort of thing, but we’re continuing on with the same bike, same team, same people - everything is exactly the same. So we have the foundations as good as they’re gonna get. 

We’re coming off the back of finishing runners up; won races, loads of podiums, fastest laps, we’re fast at every track. We’ve started our pre-season testing and we’re strong already, so we’re in a good place. 

I think 2021 is mine & the team’s best chance of winning the championship. BSB is hard, you never know how it’s gonna play out, the showdown situation changes it too - so it’s not a ‘normal’ championship. But, we’re certainly going into it with a lot of confidence and feeling like we’re gonna be one of the strongest combos in the championship. 

VD: It’s a difficult pack, with the bunch of riders you’ve got in the BSB - everyone is super talented.

Jason: Absolutely, there’s so many fast guys. Over the years, like the last 5-6-7 years with the rules how they are, it’s changed the championship a lot, because now everything is a lot tighter. A lot of good teams, good bikes, a lot of good riders, it’s very competitive now. 

You turn the clock back a little bit, and there was always a very big separation between the top teams and the next teams and so on down the field. Whereas now we’ve still got the top teams in the championship, but the bikes and everything is a lot closer now, so it makes it difficult. 
Any given weekend there can be a second covering 10-12-15 guys, so you have to be on your A-game all the time. 

In BSB it’s obviously a great thing to be consistent, but it’s difficult to be consistent because the tracks are so different. You’ve got Oulton Park, Snetterton, Silverstone, Cadwell - they’re all completely different tracks, they might suit some riders or might suit some bikes more…

But when you can be consistent over the year in BSB, it’s obviously a massive asset to have - because you can ride anything on any track, and it’s quite difficult to do that. 

VD: Exactly, some riders love tracks like Thruxton that are fast and flowing, and then you have riders who love really technical tracks like Cadwell, and that’s their forte in a way - so having that variety in tracks over the year is great. 

Jason: Yeah, massively. I think experience in BSB is the biggest thing. The more time you spend in the class, the more time you spend on the tracks, the more familiar you get with everything. Riding a superbike around some of these circuits takes some doing, and the more years you’ve got under your belt the better off you are, so it’s a difficult championship. 

VD: With that, you mention experience - there’s a lot of younger riders coming into this particular season, are some of the veteran riders almost looking downwards to the younger riders in the pack, thinking ‘they might be challenging this year?’

Jason: I think the most experienced guys will be there for the championship, like the normal guys that were there last year. But then your likes of Rory Skinner, Danny Kent coming into the championship (obviously a world champion) and a gaggle of new guys in the championship that will have their moments.

Certain tracks will suit them more, obviously with not having so much experience some other tracks might be more difficult, but that’s the beauty of BSB. You’ll always have your experienced guys that are there every single weekend, and then the newer guys that’ll throw a spanner in every other weekend so it’ll keep it exciting. 

VD: Absolutely! Any stand-out tracks, in particular, you’re looking forward to? That you’re thinking ‘this is a place where I’ll be getting some podiums, fastest laps, wins’? 

Jason: The round I’m most looking forward to is Cadwell, because we missed that last year, wanna win there more than anything. I wanna win at Cadwell! Love Oulton Park, obviously won there last year so that’s another high on the list. 

But then also other tracks that we missed out on, we missed out on Thruxton and I love racing there. Thruxton is a different one, because it’s one where you can’t race as fast as you can ride - if that makes sense. You can’t do the lap time that you can achieve every single lap, and make it to the end of the race, because the tyres don’t last. 

It’s the only track that we go to where it’s a tactics race; who can manage the tyres the best, who’s figured out what lap time they can do that’s going to get them to end the quickest, rather than being the fastest on a certain lap. It’s quite a fun thing, because it’s different for us, and it’s one of the fastest tracks we go to, so that’s cool too!

There’s plenty of tracks. I don’t dislike any of them, but the few that stand out is Cadwell, Oulton & Thruxton.

VD: It’s looking like it’ll be a good season, and with the new 2021 showdown rules thrown in…

Jason: I think it’s gonna be a different championship to last year because of the showdown, but I think the same people will be in the mix as last year, the same crop of people. 

Then with the new guys coming into the championship, I expect Rory [Skinner] to get better as the year goes on, I expect Danny Kent to get better as he spends more time on the superbike. A lot of other people have changed teams as well, so once they get more familiar they’ll become more competitive. 

Brookes, Iddon, me, Taz, the guys in there every weekend last year will be the same guys again this year - and we’ll do the best job we can. 
The goal this year is to win more races than we did last year, and see where we end up - I’m looking forward to it. 

____

The 2021 BSB season is shaping up to be a cracking one. With new teams in the mix, new riders, some new showdown rules for 2021 - but the same circuits that we all know and love - it’s certainly one not to miss out, particularly when fans are allowed back in the circuits. 

Not recorded, but I spoke with Jason after the interview and he mentioned how much of an impact the fans have on race weekends - he said fans bring real energy and excitement to the races that, without, were beginning to feel a bit like the track day we were on!

Whilst chatting I also asked him if he was even riding at 10% of his ability when going around Snetterton… he said it was probably around that, and riding on track with no lap time pressure was just a good laugh for him - but I can safely say he was still lapping litre bikes on the R6 provided by Yamaha Track Experience. He didn’t fancy taking out his personal R1 for that rain-scattered Sunday…

All photos copyrighted by McAMS Yamaha.

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