Feature: James Ellison already in mood to evoke 'I, Superbiker' mantra in 2014 after a season of false dawns (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Feature: James Ellison already in mood to evoke 'I, Superbiker' mantra in 2014 after a season of false dawns
HIS season may have been littered with false dawns but Kendal speedster James Ellison is banking on the campaign’s chequered flag and a change of scenery sparking a revival of fortunes.
After competing in the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, there was tangible optimism at the beginning of the year as the 33-year-old eyed a first British Superbikes Championship title win.
However, riding for Milwaukee Yamaha, Ellison finished in fourth position after failing to hit top gear on a regular basis and being dogged by a series of inconsistencies.
During a lifetime in the sport, the Lancaster-born racer has a well-stocked trophy cabinet – he is a double European Superstock champion and has a World Endurance crown.
But there remains a missing link, with Ellison keen to evoke the sentiments of Mark Sloper’s 2011 film documentary ‘I, Superbiker’ in which he featured – ‘Only one can be the true champion’.
“I definitely have unfinished business as I’ve never won the BSB championship and that’s something I really want to do,” he said.
“And I really believe I can do it with the right team and as part of that I’m moving on from Milwaukee Yamaha.
“I’ve had a disappointing year with reliability and if I’m going to win the championship I need to get on something I believe I can ride to victory.
“I feel a little bit let down this season, the team were absolutely fantastic but perhaps the bikes are just getting a little bit too old now.
“Those bikes date back to 2009 with updated parts so I’m going to be looking for something that is fast but more reliable.
“This time of year is difficult when you don’t have options but there are a few contracts on the table so it’s just a case of deciding the best route.”
Mechanical and technical issues were a feature of Ellison’s 2013 campaign, rearing their head during round one at Brands Hatch back in April and underpinning his entire shot at glory.
But far from a total write off, the former Corona Honda rider was still a familiar face on the podium in a recurring theme of what might have been.
“It’s been a nightmare year to be honest and that dates back to weekend one which set the trend for the entire season,” he added.
“The pattern always seemed to be one ‘Did Not Finish’ and then the next race would be a podium and that was how it panned out the whole year and I couldn’t get my head around it.
“It was very disappointing because I went into the championship this year believing I could win it and for the most part rode strongly and had some great results but lacked reliability.
“I set lap records and won a number of races and can’t even remember how many times I made the podium but had eight DNFs.
“The pace was there and that was proven but so many points were lost through stupid problems and that continued right through to the Showdown, which wasn’t the case at Kawasaki or Honda for instance.
“I remember taking the lead at Assen and started to pull away with five laps to go only for the engine to go and I just sat there on the gravel watching any hopes of the title vanish.”
After starting his racing career at the age of 15 on a Honda MBX 80cc, he progressed up the ladder and claimed the 1996 ACU Clubman’s 125 Championship and the CB 500 Championship in 1998.
A year later he entered the European Superstock series and won successive titles in 2000 and 2001 before finishing first and third respectively in the 2003 World Endurance and European Supersport championships.
Ellison debuted in the British Superbike Championship in 2004 before making an appearance in MotoGP riding for the Harris WCM team who he raced for throughout 2004 and 2006.
He competed in the AMA Superbike series in the United States in 2007 which preceded his most successful season in the BSB in 2009, finishing runner-up after joining Airwaves Yamaha YZF-R1.
“I’ve won six championships and each one had special moments – I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and wouldn’t change any of it for the world,” said Ellison.
“I’ve won at most circuits in England in my career and it’s just a case of piecing all that together and getting key consistency.
“The year I came second in the championship I finished every single race in the points and had sixteen podiums, never once having a problem with the bike, and that’s what I’ll be striving for again.”
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