Britain's James Ellison got the Paul Bird Motorsport Team's latest venture underway with a solid finish in round one of the MotoGP World Championship in Qatar.
Aboard the CRT-specification Aprilia ART, the 31-year-old Cumbrian and the PBM UK team headed by Phil Borley, continued their on-going development work at the Losail circuit and emerged with an 18th place at the end of the race held under the floodlights on Sunday evening.
Although there is still a vast amount of work to be done, the former World Endurance champion and double European Superstock champion has made huge strides as the team establishes themselves in MotoGP which will eventually lead to an all-British challenge over the next couple of seasons.
James Ellison: "All things considered it's been a positive weekend as we have gathered more valuable information in the race than we have in the few days we have tested before Qatar. I understand how the bike, tyres and brakes need to be ridden now but it is seriously like riding on a knife edge so finding the limit without crashing is tough. You need to brake super-hard to generate the heat in the discs and also at the same time deform the tyre enough to generate the heat in it for the corner entry. But if you carry the brakes into the turn, the tyre folds and you get understeer, or even crash like I did, let off too early and you get chatter, if you get it just right it grips and carries you round the corner. We're talking fractions of a second difference in timing and 0.5-2bar difference in brake pressure so as you can imagine getting it right every corner of every lap will take time. The whole team have had a gruelling weekend with the time schedule of night racing and unscheduled tip off but have stayed positive throughout. I'd like to say a big thank you to all of them for their hard work and I now look forward to learning and pushing forward in Jerez. Also big congratulations to Keith Farmer for his win at Brands Hatch yesterday."
Paul Bird: It's slow progress but it will pay dividends eventually and hopefully we will be challenging a bit further up the CRT order soon. It will take us few races to get up to speed as we haven't had the testing or development of the established teams but it was important to get a finish in Qatar. We'll continue working hard and hope to improve further in Jerez."