Jason O’Halloran continued his steady early season by recording a podium finish in round three of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park on Monday.
The Market Rasen-based Australian rider made further progress with the new Honda Racing Superbike during free practice and qualifying before securing a fourth-placed finish in race one, and third position in the next.
Starting the first 18-lap affair from the third row, O’Halloran made a good start, taking up seventh on the opening lap.
On lap three he passed Jake Dixon and then gradually reeled in the riders ahead until he caught and passed Glenn Irwin on lap 12.
On the next he overtook Josh Brookes and on the final corner of the last lap he nipped past Peter Hickman to snatch fourth at the chequered flag.
“We have made some huge steps forward this weekend,” O’Halloran said. “I was riding hard and my tyre was suffering towards the end, but it didn’t stop me finishing fourth.”
Because he set the second-fastest lap, O’Halloran was placed in the middle of the front row for the start of race two and he took advantage to take the lead at Old Hall on lap one.
But his lead was short-lived as James Ellison demoted him back to second one lap later. On lap three he was back to third when eventual race winner Shane Byrne went past and he then entered into a race-long battle for position within a large group of riders.
He dropped back as far as sixth at one stage, but fought his way back to third on lap 15.
A harsh move by Irwin put him back to fourth, but then in a five-way battle for third place he overtook Luke Mossey with two laps remaining and held on to secure his first podium of the new campaign.
He said: “My dash wasn’t working on the bike so I really didn’t know what lap times we were doing and how hard we were going,” he added.
“So I was just trying to stick with the front boys on the pace and I think I may have used a little bit too much tyre in the early part of the race as it went away from me quite quickly.
“I dropped back and thought if I can just hang in there and keep fighting back I could get back up there.
“When two in front went down I could see I had the chance of a podium and I wasn’t going to let that one go.
“It’s the first trophy of the year and it’s been a tough first few rounds so this is a reward for the boys for all their hard work.
“We will improve from here and keep fighting towards the front and hope to be up here more often.”
The 29 points total moved him into the top six on 61 points in the overall standings in the 12-round series.
The championship takes a six-week break for the North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT races.