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Ellison staying in shape for WCM testing return

Ellison staying in shape for WCM testing return

Ellison staying in shape for WCM testing return

James Ellison says he is hopeful of beginning a preseason testing campaign with WCM in February but admits he is still unsure whether it will be aboard the team's new Blata V6 machine.

News on development of the Czech mini-bike manufacturer's first ever MotoGP prototype has been quiet and Ellison himself has been kept in the dark over its progress. However, the 24 year old says he is expecting an announcement any time soon and is doing everything he can to make sure he is ready.

"I really don't know when the first test will to be honest, although I'm hoping for something in February," says Ellison. "Whether it will be on the new bike or not, I don't know. At the moment I'm just concentrating on my own training programme and waiting for that phone to ring.

"I'm doing a variety of different training – running, cycling, aerobic classes, rock climbing… basically anything to keep me in shape and trying to keep it as interesting as possible. I've also discovered downhill mountain-biking, which is great fun and a lot less dangerous than something like motocross or supermoto. The last thing I want to do now is get myself injured!"

The quest to get a brand-new motorcycle on track and competitive against the might of huge factories such as Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati, is a massive challenge but Ellison, who is a former British, European and World Endurance Champion believes he has the pedigree and the experience for the job.

"It will be very tough to start with, I'm not under any illusions about that, but I can't wait to get to work," he says. "We need to develop the bike quickly and it will be down to me to provide the team with the information so that they can do that.

"But I've spent my whole career developing bikes, ever since I first began as a racer, and I know every single working part of a motorcycle. That helps when it comes to giving feedback to the mechanics and nine times out of ten we will come to the same conclusions.

"I rode a development MV Augusta in the World Endurance series and it ended up going into production, so I know what needs to be done and hopefully we can take the WCM-Blata V6 the same way."

Ellison stepped up to the MotoGP class midway through last season for a one-off ride with WCM at Brno, having impressed team boss Peter Clifford as a privateer in the British Superbike series. It was a bizarre experience for the British rider, but his performance over the weekend and during a test at the Czech circuit on the day after the race sealed the ride for the remainder of the season and paved the way for a full rookie campaign in 2005.

"It was strange, I must admit. I remember walking into the paddock for the first time and feeling like a fan. It took me a while to get my head around the fact that I was there to ride. It was a fantastic feeling and I was lucky enough to have it for the final six races of the season. Now I'm wondering if it will be the same for all seventeen races this year!

"At first I was a bit intimidated – not by the other riders as such, but more by the concept of actually racing in MotoGP and the fact that I didn't want to let anybody down. I had to learn the bike, the track, work out what the pace was… It wasn't easy and to make matters worse it rained during practice.

"Eventually I got used to it and on the Monday after the Grand Prix we stayed to test, which really helped to get the bike dialled in. After that I couldn't wait to get out there and measure myself against the other guys again.

"I quickly realised that there wasn't much difference between me and them in terms of riding ability, and that was proved when it rained at Phillip Island. It took something like that to put us on a level playing field and I think it showed that if we can put a good package together for 2005 then we can be competitive."

Having won the British Superbike Cup for the best privateer by a massive 133 points in 2004, Ellison was hot property for a top BSB ride in 2005 but says his heart was always set on MotoGP.

"I could have stayed in British Superbikes but I didn't want to do that. My long-term goal was always to race in Grand Prix and I think this is the best way to prove that I am worth my chance here. The goal of every rider is to prove they are the best by beating the best, and the only series in the world where you can do that is in MotoGP."

As well as the challenge of developing a new bike and competing against the best riders and factories in the world, Ellison is also the only current British rider on the entry list and admits to feeling added pressure.

"I like a challenge… I think it keeps you hungry. I think if you are at a disadvantage it really gives you something to go for, an extra motivation to beat the guy in front of you. If you get used to pushing hard on a bike which is perhaps not the most competitive in the field, I think it gives you a chance of going the extra yard when you are competitive.

"I haven't really given being the only British rider much thought. I suppose it is a bit of extra pressure if anything, because there are a lot of people watching MotoGP in Britain now and it's becoming really popular. I'm in a good position because there are no expectations on me so I just want to do my best and hopefully I will do Britain proud."

The opportunity to test the bike sooner rather than later will certainly help Ellison in his quest, but for the time being he is resigned to watching the progress made by other teams as their preseason schedules get underway.

"We're already starting off a long way behind so the progress they are making is bad news for us," he admits. "It's mind-blowing how fast they've been going to be honest. I was keeping my eye on developments at the Sepang test and I can't believe they've gone 1.5 seconds quicker than they did last October.

"The worst possible thing for us right now is to see the big factories making progress while we're still waiting to test but it just means we'll just have to work even harder when our chance comes along."

MotoGP, 2005

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