Having come into the weekend as series leaders and confident of challenging for further victories, a mix of bad luck and technical gremlins denied the JG Speedfit Kawasaki duo of James Ellison and James Westmoreland from showing their true potential.
It was a strong start to the weekend for the GBmoto prepared JG Speedfit Kawasaki team. Returning to MCE British Superbike action following a six week break, James Ellison picked up where he left off by setting the fastest time during the three practice sessions whilst James Westmoreland continued to make steps forward to run top ten pace. Disaster struck in qualifying however as despite setting the fastest time, Ellison tumbled out of contention in Q2 when he was the first rider to reach the rain hit opening corner. Westmoreland was unable to match his free practice pace and qualified in 23rd.
Starting from tenth on the grid, James enjoyed a strong start to be running in seventh, however running on at the end of the Bentley straight saw him drop down the order, crossing the line at the end of the opening lap in 19th with Westy one place behind. A double dose of bad luck first struck with Westy retiring on lap four before Ellison was forced to pull in on lap 11 following his chain stretching and jumping off the sprocket.
With his earlier problem preventing Ellison from setting a fast lap time, he started the second race in 16th with Westy in 24th. Enjoying an incredible start, Ellison moved into seventh by the end of the opening lap and continued to work his way forward to sixth by the time the pace car was deployed on lap four. Taking fifth immediately after the car came in, he steadily climbed to third and looked to take second place however due to a minor injury sustained in Saturday’s crash was unable to maintain his pace in the pack, slipping back to seventh at the line. Further bad luck struck Westy’s side of the garage as having taken an equally strong start to be fifteenth on the opening lap, he was again forced to retire on lap eleven following problems with the clutch.
Disappointed with his weekend James Ellison said, “It’s been an incredibly disappointing day today, to only walk away with a seventh is frustrating for both myself and the team as we know it’s not where we should be – particularly as we set the fastest lap of the weekend in FP3. Unfortunately we just had a bit of bad luck this weekend, the qualifying crash caused a lot of damage to the bike and just left me a bit battered and bruised. The team did a mega job in rebuilding the bike but just as we were about to go out for warm up we discovered a broken wire which meant we didn’t get a lap in until race one. This left us facing an uphill battle and unfortunately the chain stretched and was jumping off the sprocket.
We were a long way back in race two but the bike was mega and by the end of the first lap we were up in seventh before moving up to third mid-race. I was capable of running the pace when I was out on my own but towards the end of the race when we were caught up in a battle I was just struggling slightly from the crash and couldn’t keep my rhythm. We’ve got two weeks before Knockhill so I’ll get some rest and we’ll come back ready to return to the podium and get the series lead back!”
James Westmoreland said, “Today has been particularly difficult. We made a big jump forward with the setting of the bike this weekend and certainly had the pace to run top ten. Unfortunately I messed up a bit in qualifying which put us back on the grid as I just couldn’t match my earlier pace. We fixed that in warm up but in the first race we had a sensor break on us and then in the second race we had a problem with the clutch.
Despite this, we can walk away with some positives and Knockhill is one of my favourite tracks, as well as being one of my strongest so we can hopefully continue building and enjoy two strong rides there.”
JG Speedfit Kawasaki Team Manager Terry Liquorish said, “It’s been a very differing weekend and certainly quite frustrating across both sides. Westy struggled on Friday with the feeling on the bike but we went back to basics overnight which seemed to cure it and see him move up to top ten. Unfortunately he was unable to match that pace in qualifying and ended up in 23rd which gave him an uphill struggle for the races. On the other side, James was running top three on Friday and following some changes came out in practice Saturday with the fastest lap of the weekend. Unfortunately despite matching that pace in qualifying, he was the first rider to hit the wet track and although it looked like a bit of an innocuous crash, the bike needed a full rebuild and he was a bit battered and bruised.
Further bad luck struck on race day as we discovered a broken wire in the wiring loom which meant James Ellison couldn’t go out in warm up. We corrected the problem ahead of race one, but it meant we lost the chance to bed the bike in and unfortunately he had retire in race one after the chain stretched. He made a great start in the second race but he struggled a bit with the injury in the pack and took seventh. Westy showed top ten pace in warm up and we were confident we would see a strong day from him but unfortunately he was forced to retire from both races.
Coming into the weekend as series leaders, we had high hopes but unfortunately things didn’t go to plan. We’ll now look at fixing the problems so the team can come out at Knockhill fighting.”