Britain's James Ellison's quest for his and the PBM UK team's first points of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship season continues after the 31-year-old from Kendal retired with ten laps to go in yesterday's Portuguese Grand Prix.
Aboard the CRT specification Aprilia ART, the former double European and World Endurance Champion struggled with set up once again and qualified in 19th position out of 21 riders. Any hopes of repeating his heroics of Jerez one week ago, where he was set to finish in 14th until an engine problem on the penultimate lap, were dashed when the chatter problems returned and forced him out.
James Ellison: "Pulling in again was a very, very difficult decision for me as the team worked so hard all weekend to cure the front chatter which is like a very heavy vibration. We were making some progress by the time we got to qualifying and had a good plan in place for the race to reduce the problem. The start was good and I was fighting at the front of the CRTs like in Jerez for the first few laps but as the tyres wore the chatter got to the point that it became unpredictable and in some of the fast corners it was pushing me a couple of metres off line. At this point I was only able to ride around and not actually race because it was getting worse. We are working hard on trying to find the source of the problem and I believe that when we do we'll be back at the sharp end of the CRTs. I'd just like to say a huge thank you to Paul Bird and the whole PBM UK team for their hard work and patience in what is proving to be a difficult start to the season."
Paul Bird: "It's disappointing as I thought we'd turned the corner at Jerez but I guess it's all part of the learning curve. We'll have a sit down with James and the team this week to try and find a way forward but you've got to bear in mind that this is a very long term project and our little team from up north is competing with the world's best so it will take time." The next round of MotoGP is at Le Mans in two weeks time.