Cumbrian James Ellison returns to the Grand Prix arena for the first time since 2006 this weekend where he will kick off a brand new era for the Paul Bird Motorsport Team.
The 31-year-old from Kendal will be in action in the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship in Qatar where he will race the PBM UK Aprilia ART as part of the Claiming Rules Team (CRT) category.
Ellison, a former World Endurance champion and double European Superstock champion, has spent much of the winter helping the Penrith-based squad develop the bike which is the start of a long-term MotoGP project and will see an all-British bike and team set to take on the world in future years.
However, in the meantime, they go into Sunday's race under the floodlights at the Losail track with work very much in progress and looking to match the pace of the leading CRT bikes at the opening round of the 18-race championship.
In addition to the team's MotoGP commitments in 2012, PBM UK are fielding former MotoGP racer Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and 125cc GP wild card Stuart Easton as part of the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki British Superbike Championship Team and reigning Metzeler National Superstock 600 champion, Keith Farmer on a Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ZX-10R in the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 championship this season.
James Ellison: "I'm really excited to be back in Qatar as I love the circuit and it's even more special that I'm here to be part of MotoGP. Being honest I never thought it possible to get a second chance so of course I am extremely grateful to Paul Bird and the whole PBM UK team for this opportunity and I can promise that I will give no less than 100% in every session and hope that I can repay them in some way. It will be a tough battle for sure with the relative lack of time we've had on the bike to date but we are a strong team and I'm sure we'll fight hard to make up for lost time. One request though: dim the lights please!"
Paul Bird: "This is an historic time for us as we embark upon the latest phase of the team's development in MotoGP and one which we are very excited about. We have raced as wild cards in GPs on many occasions in the past but to be part of the MotoGP elite is very special for us. This year is all about learning for us and James has done a great job with the team so far, but we know we have a very long way to go yet. The idea is to become more competitive as the season progresses and to challenge the front-running CRT bikes."