TAG Racing polish off positive Cartagena test in style

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Swadlincote based TAG Racing have returned home full of confidence following the conclusion of an extensive Spanish pre-season testing programme, with both James Ellison and Shaun Winfield finding a positive base setting ahead of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike season

The three days on track saw both Ellison and Winfield pick up where they left off last month in Jerez, with the Cumbrian born Texan continuing to work increasingly hard with the suspension set up of his machine.

Ellison, worked hard alongside his crew to refine a stronger setup, as he continued to chip away at his lap times around the Cartagena circuit. The former MotoGP star ended the three days in a confident mindset, and now has a clear direction to follow ahead of his, and the team’s, final pre-season test at Donington Park on the 20thMarch.

Shaun Winfield’s confidence also took a further boost, following a great test for the 24-year-old last month in Andalucía. He continued to work with his mentor, Chris Walker, over the course of the three days, improving his lap times dramatically, developing a stronger riding style. He also sourced a solid base setup that allowed him to feel more at home on board his trusty Yamaha YZF-R1.

The test also saw the ‘Stalker’ once again take to the track, on the team’s third Superbike as he continued on his road to recovery following breaking his back in August 2017.

Following the test, a pleased James Ellison said: “It’s been pretty good for me, it’s been a long three days of trying lots and lots of different things, the way the sessions ran meant we had a lot of time in between to make changes but not a lot of time on track to assess them, but we have got through a heck of a lot of stuff.

“We made some really good improvements over the first two days, and day three if I’m being honest we hit a little bit of a wall, but we have found a direction of not to go in today, which is what testing is all about. We now know where we need to start for the next test, but on a whole to sum up the three days they have been really, really positive. We have got through lots of things we wouldn’t be able to at a BSB round, and I think we’ll arrive at the official test pretty much ready and on pace. 

“I definitely feel confident heading into the official test, we’re still working on the rear end of the bike, because I ride totally different to what Josh does and the bike was almost set up for him so that is one thing we are still focusing on. We have now found a direction we need to go in, so I’m very, very confident. 

“It’s been a big job for the boys to get out here, so I’ve got to thank the TAG Racing team for everything and I can’t wait for Donington Park.

Shaun Winfield added: “This weekend has gone really well, last time I went to Cartagena was three years ago and ahead of the test I couldn’t remember if turn two was left or right. The first day I started off steady, learning the track again, following James and Chris around really helped because they have lots experience around Cartagena and after that I picked up the pace really quickly. We then changed quite a lot on the bike to give me a little bit more grip, which helped me turn the bike a lot better and that worked really well. I followed Chris around for a while, and he pushed me a lot to improve my lap time, we had a good tussle and it really pushed me along. 

“The final day we made dramatic changes, which proved to be the right changes because I produced my personal best lap time on my own. I’m really happy with where I am the moment, the two tests at Jerez and Cartagena have proved really positive and having Chris onboard is driving me forward and giving me confidence. Overall I’m pleased and I’m excited to get back at it at Donington.”

Finally, Chris Walker summerised: “My primary purpose coming to this test and the last one was to help Shaun and drive him forward, and we’ve done that in every session we’ve had. We’ve only gone backwards once, and I’ve noticed a massive difference in him from when we arrived on Friday to now.

“He’s improved so much, his riding, the setup of the bike, how he’s working with the team and he’s done a commendable job and it’s exactly how it should be, it’s nice to have been apart of that.

“We completed a race simulation on the first afternoon, and that really helped, you’ve got to get laps under your belt and Shaun is still relatively inexperienced on a Superbike, and riding a Yamaha is not similar to riding a Kawasaki which he’s rode before. He’s dropped into the times that most of the BSB boys will be doing there next week, so we’re really happy.”

The team now have three weeks to recover and prepare before the official Bennetts British Superbike Championship test at Donington Park on the 20th March, the final chance to fine tune the bikes before the season gets underway over the Easter weekend.