2017 has just finished and it has been a long character building season, but as I am writing this column for you all I have already completed my first three-day pre-season test for 2018.

When I renewed my contract with Honda for 2018, one major thing I wanted was to start testing earlier, to get a good direction early on and hit the ground running in the new season. Honda delivered, this test shows their commitment to the British Superbike championship and to developing the new Fireblade.

Jason O'Halloran - Jerez Test 2017 - Image by Fabrizio Porrozzi

Jason O’Halloran – Jerez Test 2017 – Image by Fabrizio Porrozzi

I have finished fifth in the British Superbike Championship for the past two years, and as a team we still have a lot of untapped potential. The plan is to unlock that in 2018 and be in the fight for the Championship from Round 1 at Donington Park.

The test was a success for both myself and teammate Dan Linfoot, with two bikes each and a long list of components to test and evaluate ahead of the winter break. From new engine specs to new chassis, it was very important to be clear and give everything we tested a fair chance before dismissing it, accepting it, or placing it on the maybe list to test again at another circuit.

 

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The biggest step forward came from the engine, the new engine spec that the guys at Honda Racing have produced for us was an instant yes from both myself and Dan. The power delivery is smoother, it’s easier on the chassis making for a nicer bike to ride, and it also lends itself to tyre wear which is always a positive.

Aside from the obvious positives of a pre-season test this side of Christmas we also got to share the Jerez circuit with 19 MotoGP and about 10 WSBK bikes. It is always hard to judge and compare lap times between different championships as tyres and regulations are so different, but what I would say is the gap between MotoGP, WSBK and BSB wasn’t all that big.

Jason O'Halloran - Jerez Test 2017 - Image by Fabrizio Porrozzi

Jason O’Halloran – Jerez Test 2017 – Image by Fabrizio Porrozzi

My best lap was set on a BSB spec Pirelli race tyre, which was a 1:40:9, I did a BSB distance race run in the 1:41s and felt that even after three days on track at Jerez I still had a lot to learn.

Compare this to an average lap from the WSBK guys on race tyres in the high 1:39s to mid 1:40s, while even the majority of the MotoGP paddock spent most of the day in the 39s, and it’s not all that dissimilar. When you start comparing budgets, track knowledge, tyre spec and regulations, the gap is relatively small.

 

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Apart from testing I have been quite busy with bike shows, I spent two days at the EICMA show in Milan catching up with my sponsors based in Europe. I then had a few days at Motorcycle Live in Birmingham on the Honda stand and soon after set off for Jerez, so it’s been a busy period since the final round at Brands Hatch.

I have a few things left to do this side of Christmas, finalising my personal sponsorship agreements and catching up on a few things around the house before we head back to Australia.

Jason O'Halloran

Jason O’Halloran

I always look forward  to getting back home for a month or so each year, however over the last few years I have had more and more commitments and haven’t got as much time back in Australia as I would have liked. Hopefully in the next few years I can get back to spending a few months a year there, and enjoy a little more sunshine. Until my next column, keep it on two wheels and have a great Xmas!

– Jason

 

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