Battling weekend for Anvil Hire TAG Racing at Oulton Park

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R03 Oulton 07-05-18 TAG 154
It was a challenging weekend for the Anvil Hire TAG Racing team at round three of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, with James Ellison plagued by bad luck all weekend picking up an eleventh and 12th place finish in Monday’s two races. Shaun Winfield enjoyed a solid weekend, setting a new personal best lap time in qualifying and picked up two solid top 20 finishes come race day
Following contrasting fortunes for both riders during free practice, where Ellison was plagued with further tyre issues and technical trouble, team mate Winfield continued to chip away at his times ahead of qualifying.

After the team worked hard to fix the issue, Ellison flew out of the blocks and instantly headed into Q2. Shaun followed his team mate around the 2.6-mile circuit and quickly posted his personal best lap time, a 1:37.447, half a second faster than he’d been all weekend, which would line him up in 25th for Monday’s first race.

Q2 saw Ellison experience rear tyre issues after one flying lap, which cut short his attack on Q3, missing out by three tenths of a second, meaning he would start from tenth for race one.

As the lights went out on Monday afternoon for the opening race, both James and Shaun made good starts, however as they headed into the Hizzy’s chicane for the first time, both riders ran on and were forced to re-join the race at the back.

Fully focused, James started to pick his way through the riders ahead, by lap nine he had worked his way through to 14th and into the points, and he continued to pick off the group ahead.

Only four laps later the Cumbrian found himself in eleventh and pushing for the top ten. James continued to lap quickly as he chased down Richard Cooper, but unfortunately, he ran out laps and crossed the line to pick up five vital points.

Shaun Winfield equally regrouped well and started to work his way through the pack, making his way to 20th place by lap nine.

He was then embroiled in a battle with David Johnson, and continued to push hard, swapping places with the Gulf BMW rider until the final lap where he lost out on the drag to the line, eventually taking 20th place.

By virtue of their lap times in the opening race James would start 17th for race two, with Shaun 25th.

Both James and Shaun made great leaps from the line as the lights went out, with James making up two places to 15th and Shaun battling hard for 20th. Once Ellison had found his rhythm, he soon started to pick his way through the pack, and by lap nine he sat in 12th place.

He started to close down the gap to Peter Hickman ahead, posting his fastest lap of the race in the process. Unfortunately, with only three laps to go, Ellison lost grip with his rear tyre and had to settle for 12th place as he crossed the line.

By the fifth lap Shaun had moved up two places into 21st, and began to move forward, fighting hard with David Johnson. On lap nine he’d found a way past the BMW rider, and looked to chase the group ahead down.

During the final few laps he started to battle with Sylvain Barrier for 19th, and the 24-year-old held off the Frenchman’s attack until the final lap. With only a handful of corners left to go, Shaun looked to make a move on the BMW man, but he made a mistake and was forced to settle for 20th.

James Ellison said: “It’s the hardest I’ve ever had to work for an 11th and 12th. It was a bogey trap for us, we just couldn’t get the bike working at all. It didn’t do what I wanted it to do, and it’s not a million miles off, it’s just a little tiny bit each corner. 

“I’ve always openly said I’ve never been happy with the rear of the bike, all through testing and then we made progress at Donington and then again we made a step forward at Brands and I was starting to like it, it was starting to feel like my bike. But they’re very smooth circuits and we’ve come here with a few bumps, undulations and ripples in the circuit and it’s just not doing anything I want it to do. 

“We’ve tried almost everything this weekend, we just need to go back to the drawing board at the workshop and get our heads together and see why it’s not loading the rear when I want it to. Like I’ve said I’ve never had to work that hard before for 11th and 12th. The bike is just so close to being awesome, but it’s just far away enough to where I can’t ride it to where we need to be, and I’m not an 11th and 12th place guy. 

“I go back to America to see my family this week, but I’m obviously in close contact with the team while I’m away. We’ll come up with a plan following my feedback and come up with a plan to go to Snetterton and try and get back to where we should be.”

Shaun Winfield added: “I’m pleased with this weekend, we’ve made some good progress with my pace and posted a personal best in qualifying. 

“The race pace wasn’t what we wanted, we had a couple of issues. I went straight on at the chicane on the first lap, I over cooked it with a full tank of fuel and cold brakes. I managed to claw back some places early on in race one and I had a good tussle with Dave Johnson. I was on the back of him all race, I was going to make a pass into the chicane on the last lap but he just closed the door on me and blocked me off, so there was no way through.

“Race two I didn’t get a great start off the line but managed to hold my place and then made a couple places on the first couple of corners and I tried to hold my place. Barrier was catching and when he came past I tried to go with him and make a move into the second chicane but I went in a little bit hard and wide and lost the timing. But overall, two top 20s and we’re looking forward to Snetterton.

Team Owner Rob Winfield: “It’s been tough this weekend, James has again ran into bad luck with technical trouble but the whole team has rallied around and we’ve come through it. It’s important that we head back to the drawing board now, it’s not where I, James or the team expect to be, so this break is now important to re-group.

“Shaun has had a good weekend, he’s improved his pace and is feeling much more comfortable on the bike, and with another test at Snetterton coming up he’s only going to get better. The whole team have worked fantastically this weekend, I can’t thank them enough but we have to get back on the podium, and it’s important it happens sooner rather than later.