Second row start for Ellison at season opener

R01 Donington TAG 31-03-18 071

James Ellison will start this afternoon’s opening Bennetts British Superbike race from the head of the second row in fourth place, after being pegged back from the front row in the dying seconds by Shane Byrne. His team mate Shaun Winfield will start from 28th on the grid, after improving in time in cold conditions.

Yesterday Bennetts BSB officials made a change to the original schedule due to potential bad weather, which saw the Superbike class have a reduced final free practice session, and a shortened qualifying session this morning.

Ellison improved his feeling on board his Anvil Hire TAG Racing machine during the 20-minute final practice and headed into the Datatag qualifying high in confidence. The 37-year-old posted solid lap times in cold conditions, which saw a track temperature of just eight degrees.

Sitting in third place as the flag came out after 30 minutes, James was pegged back to fourth place by defending Champion Shane Byrne on his final lap, meaning Ellison would start this afternoon’s opening race at the head of the front row.

Shaun Winfield continued his progression, improving his lap times each time he crossed the line. Shaun knocked almost two seconds off his fastest lap in the final free practice, lining him up in 28th for the opening race of the weekend.

After the session, a positive James Ellison said: “The bike is feeling really, really good but in that session I was having a problem with arm pump. I don’t know if it’s because my leathers are brand new, or that I’m riding tense and maybe the cold weather isn’t helping because I don’t normally struggle with it, that much anyway.

“I could only put one or two laps together on the softer tyre, but the good thing is that in the final free practice session we seemed to be the quickest on the SC1. I’m quite confident with that and I think that will be the race tyre. With the softer tyre you could tell it was giving more grip, but I don’t think it will last the race distance.

“I’m not happy with being on the second row of the grid, I think there was definitely more in the bike and it was capable of a front row and possibly a pole position if I didn’t have the issues with my arms. We’re getting quicker with every lap, I’m confident with the setup of the bike and my race pace so I need to chill out and get my head down from the start.

Team mate Shaun Winfield added: “I’m a little bit frustrated if I’m honest, I know there is more to come from myself and the bike, which has shown because I went two second quicker in qualifying than I did in the final practice.

“28th is not where I want to be at all, we have a plan for the race, setup wise, and with the cold conditions we are planning to use the harder tyre because I think it will last longer throughout the race. I’ve got to get a good start, get with the right people and push hard. I want to be in the points, which I do believe is possible and I want to bring them home for my lads because they have been working so hard all weekend.”

Race one is due to get underway at 4:30 and will be shown live on Eurosport this afternoon.