Positive progress at the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ for Anvil Hire TAG Racing

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R11 Assen TAG 30-09-18 050
It was a progressive weekend for the Anvil Hire TAG Racing team at the 11thround of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Assen with James Ellison picking up two solid points scoring finishes, collecting a 10thplace in race one and an eighth-place finish in race two. Shaun Winfield had an action pack weekend, bettering his personal best lap time and collected a 22ndand 18thplace finish in both races after re-building his confidence following a big crash in the final free practice session.
Following three positive free practice sessions, where Shaun improved on his personal best lap time and James sat in fourth place, the pair headed into qualifying on Saturday full of confidence.

After the team re-built Shaun’s machine following a crash in FP3, he headed out on track and posted a 1:39.8, which placed him in 26th, as he re-gained his confidence after a 130 mile an hour crash.

James progressed straight through into Q2 after posting a 1:36.962, however in the shorter second session the 38-year-old went six tenths faster, setting his fastest lap of the weekend.

But, he just missed out on Q3 by one tenth of a second, leaving him in 12thplace for race one.

From the lights on Sunday afternoon James made a tough start to the opening encounter, dropping three places after the opening lap due to being boxed in at the first corner. Although team mate Shaun made a great start, holding his grid spot of 23rd.

The Cumbrian quickly became embroiled in a four-way battle for tenth place with Richard Cooper, Danny Buchan, Dan Linfoot and Josh Brookes. Ellison quickly settled in to a strong rhythm, holding 14thplace by mid-race.

But, the 38-year-old started to pick his way through the pack ahead, making easy work of Buchan, Cooper and Linfoot.

With just two laps remaining he began to chase down Brookes who sat ahead in ninth, he continued to chip away at the gap although he ran out of laps and crossed the line inside the top 10.

Shaun soon settled into the race after a frantic start and started to battle with Joe Francis and Aaron Zanotti. The 25-year-old held off Francis until lap 11 when the PR Racing BMW man retired the pits, and Zanotti a lap later leaving Winfield to complete the race alone.

He continued to push hard, posting strong and consistent lap times, and crossed the line in 22nd, just outside of the top 20.

By virtue of their lap times in the opening race, James would start race two from 16th with Shaun 24th.

As the lights went out both James and Shaun made great starts with Ellison jumping into 11thplace after the opening lap, with Shaun making up three places sitting in 21st.

The safety car was then deployed due to a double bike accident, which saw Ellison re-start the race on lap four when the car came in, in eighth place. He quickly started to move forward during the next few laps, and found himself in sixth with just one lap remaining.

On the final lap Ellison headed a three-man battle including Glenn Irwin, Richard Cooper and Bradley Ray, however at the final chicane he was pushed out wide, and lost out on the drag to the line, taking the flag in eighth place.

Shaun capitalised on the safety car and after the incident he found himself in 13thplace, and after the car came back in he was forced to take evasive action, dropping three places.

He then became embroiled in a battle with Joe Francis once again, the duo swapped and changed places for the remainder of the race, but he lost out on the final lap by just 0.047 taking the flag in 18thplace.

James Ellison: “It’s been a positive weekend really, we made steady progress but straight away I felt more comfortable and I went much faster than I did last year so things have moved on. I posted a 1:36.3 which is quicker than I’ve ever gone around here. 

“With it being the first round on the new suspension there was a lot to go through and we tested lots and lots things, so we never really rode the same bike twice. To say we’ve started from scratch I’ve had my best race of the year, apart from round one, so I’d say it’s been a successful weekend. 

“It may not look like that on paper because I dropped to eighth on the last lap, four of us wanted the same line I went into the chicane in fifth and came out eighth. I’m little bit disappointed with the end result, but I’m really happy with the feeling on the bike and the progression we’ve made.”

Shaun Winfield: “The weekend hasn’t gone how I wanted it too really, we’ve changed suspension this weekend and the initial feeling was good, and I went quicker than I ever have done around here in FP2. 

“I was just pushing a little too hard in FP3 at the end of the session and I crashed, which put us on the back foot because the guys had to work hard to rebuild the bike and they literally finished and wheeled me out into pit-lane for qualifying. 

“I lost the group ahead in the first race and I couldn’t get the bike to steer the way I wanted it too, but we made good changes for the second race and I felt much more comfortable. 

“Race two was eventful, I picked up a few places but I dropped back into a battle with Joe Francis. I had a good battle with him and I kept closing in, but I lost out on the drag to the line. All in all it’s been positive and I’m looking forward to Brands.”

Team owner Rob Winfield: “I’m pleased with how this weekend has gone, we’ve made a big change with changing suspension providers and both riders had no data to go from, but both have pulled it out of the bag and produced a good performance. 

“We have a chance to go back to the workshop now and focus making the bike suit both riders better, and I’m sure we will see them both improve at Brands. I must thank everyone who has helped in the recent weeks, it hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

James Ellison now sits 13th in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on 102 points, with Shaun Winfield sitting on three.

The team now have a two week break before heading south to Brands Hatch for the final round of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship.