Mixed emotions for Anvil Hire TAG Racing at Brands Hatch

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It was a challenging weekend for the Anvil Hire TAG Racing team at Brands Hatch, with James Ellison experiencing bad luck on race day after qualifying strongly on Saturday. Shaun Winfield battled set up issues all weekend, and was unfortunate to not break into the top 20 on Sunday evening after riding hard in difficult conditions
Following a positive set of free practice sessions for both riders, James Ellisonqualified strongly on Saturday afternoon, after a 45.145 second lap in Q3 saw him line up in third, and on the outside of the front row for Sunday’s opening race, only a tenth of a second off of pole position.

Equally Shaun Winfield qualified well, posting his fastest lap time of the weekend around the tight and twisty track, although struggling with set up issues he would start race one in 23rd.

As the lights went out James made a tough start and dropped back to eleventh after the opening lap. He soon regrouped and went in search of Danny Buchan who was ahead.

James then had a tyre issue, meaning he couldn’t push as hard as he wanted too. The 38-year-old dropped back in the pack, and then made a move on Taylor MacKenzie in the final few laps to pick up 16th place as he took the flag.

Shaun made a great start to his race, making up three places on the opening lap. He soon became embroiled in a battle with Carl Phillips with the pair swapping places all race long.

With two laps to go the Northern Irishman got the better of Shaun, and the 24-year-old lost grip with his rear tyre and wasn’t able to respond, crossing the line in 22nd.

By virtue of their lap times from race one James would start the second outing in 14th with Shaun 22nd.

Prior to the start of race two light spots of rain started to fall as the riders lined up on the grid, however both Shaun and James started on slicks and made great starts, with James holding his grid spot of 14th with Shaun battling for 20th place.

However, the rain started to fall heavier on lap seven, thus forcing the organisers to stop the race. The team worked around the clock to change the settings of both bikes, although James ran out of time and was forced to start the race from the back of the grid.

As the lights went out for the 22-lap re-start James made up a handful of places, crossing the line in 17th and then started to pull in the group ahead. By mid-race he’d made his way into the points, sitting in 13th. He continued to carve his way through the pack, eventually taking eleventh place as the flag came out, picking up vital points.

Shaun equally made a good start, and started to battle for 20th place with Kyle Ryde, Sylvain Barrier, Mason Law and Jason O’Halloran. As Shaun chased the Honda Racing man down, the Aussie made a mistake which slowed him down, causing him to lose out on the battle ahead.

The Derbyshire man fought hard with Kyle Ryde through challenging wet conditions, however he just couldn’t find a way past on the final few laps, taking the flag in 21st.

James Ellison: “It’s frustrating because we’ve been really strong all weekend, I’m gutted for everybody in the team and myself. I had a great grid position for race one, but I had a duff tyres, front and rear, and a couple of guys behind me had the same issue. Both tyres just had no grip, and we hadn’t had that issue all weekend long, which was really frustrating.

“Because of the issues we had I didn’t get a good lap time in, which set me back for race two on the grid. The heavens then opened, I missed the exit for pit lane because we were setting the bike up for the wet. But I fought my way through to get some solid points from the back of the grid, so I’m fairly happy with that.

“These last two races aren’t a showing of what we’re really capable of, so we’ll take away the positives and work towards Oulton Park.” 

Shaun Winfield: It’s been a challenging weekend, we started with what we finished up with at Donington, because the bike is a lot different to last year, so we couldn’t really go off the data we had from last year. It wasn’t working quite how we wanted it to, but the guys worked hard and we made a lot of improvements.

“I didn’t really make the most of qualifying, I didn’t get a good lap in, although I did set my fastest lap of the weekend in Q1 on my own. I struggled in the first race, I was losing a lot of time coming out of the final corner, and that hindered me.

“Then the rain came for race two and wet conditions aren’t my favourite, but straight away I had quite a lot of confidence and I felt comfortable. Jason had a big moment in front of me and that made me sit up, which meant I lost the group ahead. I’m taking the positives away and we’ll now focus fully on the next round at Oulton Park.”

Team Owner Rob Winfield: “Well again we’re experiencing the highs and lows of racing! James worked so hard in qualifying and that showed with the lap he pulled out. But, then we had no luck getting two duff tyres, which can happen, and it happened to us.

“Then race two the rain came, he was unlucky to have to start at the back of the grid, I’m not blaming anyone in the team because they worked hard to get him out quickly, and he did well to get into the points. Shaun again has been working hard on setup with Chris, and he’s slowly getting there, which is a positive sign.

“We’ll head back to base now, regroup and make a solid plan for the next round at Oulton Park. We can’t have any more races like this, so it’s time to make it count, which we will.”

James Ellison currently sits in 12th of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on 21 points.

The team now have a three-week break before heading North to Cheshire and to Oulton Park for round three of the Championship on May 5/6/7.