11 December 2013
BSB Q&A - James Ellison
Maybe a lot of it was to do with the fact that we didn't have the fastest bike out there and that the team were pushing so hard to develop the bike and make it quicker and maybe that caused too much stress on the engine. One of the main issues was the cam chain which went quite a few times, at Assen for example the cam chain wore out the plastic tensioner and the plastic swarf from that blocked the oil ways and then the crank went - another DNF. The team did learn from the failures in that they didn't happen again, and all credit to team in that the failures couldn't be foreseen but a non-score is a non-score.
Short of building me a brand new bike every weekend maybe we couldn't have avoided what happened because parts just wear. It's a 2009 bike which has new parts fitted but some of those parts don't get replaced. I don't blame the team at all, it's just unfortunate that it happened when I was riding so well, I was second to Alex [Lowes] in the fastest lap list and only crashed out three times.
Did the situation mean that you sometimes had to over ride the bike?
When I had to start from way down the grid I would sometimes get pretty frustrated trying to pass people and risked crashing out because if I started from down the grid I could often see the fast guys I was competing against stretching away.
I thought the new shootout system would give us a chance and things would change but we got to Assen went really well in qualifying and then my fuel injector broke in Q3. So I was on the second row again feeling really frustrated when I should have been on the front row. I got my head down and managed to get into the lead and was sitting pretty then just after half distance my engine blew up. I was just thinking 'For f*cks sake, what do I have to do!' Every time I put a race behind me and got my motivation back up, that kind of thing was happening.
I'm normally a really consistent and calm rider regardless of what happens but this year the situation, breakdowns and inconsistencies did get to me a little. Because your position is under attack, it can make you ride just a bit more defensively to guard your points, instead of going for 1st, 2nd or 3rd, you might take a 4th. Also you may not make a move when you could have done.
It may also have affected my concentration in some races. At Brands where I crashed out, I didn't really need to go to the front of that race but deep down I was just desperate for podium credits. In retrospect I think I should have just sat there behind Chris and picked a better move. I rushed into the pass when I didn't need to and ended up crashing out. I often had to think about the championship rather than the race in hand. I think I kept my composure as well as I could have done though.
Is a crash easier to handle mentally than a bike failure?
Yeah, because a crash is often my fault, I can say I'm sorry, learn from it and try to make sure it never happens again. But when something happens beyond your control you may have worked your arse off all weekend, you've worked so hard in the weeks before that, your diet and everything has revolving around that weekend and then you're let down by a wire coming loose or a cam chain breaking. That's hard to handle. To walk away from all that effort and danger with nothing is really terrible.
So you're going from a championship winning and race winning team, who you believe you could have won the championship with last season, to one whose riders finished in eleventh and twelfth last season?
Before Silverstone last year, Shaun [Muir] was happy to have me on the bike again next year. I'd been approached by other top teams but I said that I was happy staying where I was. I wanted to have another year on the bike to keep a bit of consistency and learn from this season's mistakes, prepare the bike a bit better and get the job done.
But after Silverstone Shaun kind of changed his tune a little bit, I heard he was talking to other riders and saw other riders going into his motorhome. He was also avoiding calls which isn't like Shaun. I think he was having a hard time making the decision because when I finally got hold of him he explained everything.
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