James Ellison is to make a surprise return to the MCE British Superbike Championship after signing to ride with Sorrymate.com SMT Honda in place of Dan Linfoot.
The 2009 BSB runner-up has spent the 2011 season riding for Bogdanka PTR in the World Supersport Championship, but will now combine those efforts with a spell in BSB at the Robin Croft-helmed team.
An unexpected return for the six-time race winner, Ellison is thrilled to be back in the BSB paddock and is confident of pushing SMT Honda further up the grid.
"It's funny how the deal to ride with Robin (Croft) came about as we have been close friends since 2004 and I ask him for advice on a variety of things,” Ellison, who fnished second for Airwaves Yamaha in 2009, told the BSB website. “He split with Dan and I was so motivated to join him. It is a close knit team and they work so hard to get the results. I have been with the team for a couple of rounds this season to support them and it has all just fallen into place so I will be joining them from Oulton Park.
"It's a shame for Dan but for me it will be great being part of such a hard-working team; I know they can have results as that is essentially my bike from last season with a few engine upgrades, even the electronics team is the same as I had last year. I am not coming back to BSB just to fill up the places; that bike won races last season and I don't think there is too much difference in the lap times between then and now.
Ellison has endured a difficult WSS campaign, with technical issues in particular conspiring to leave him 12th in the standings after six races. However, Ellison sees the return to BSB as an opportunity to prove his worth on a Superbike.
“I need to prove that I can still ride a Superbike and for my future I want to come and put on a good show for myself and the team in BSB. I have had some bad luck this season in World Supersport so far through no fault of my own with a few issues but at the end of the day people look at the results rather than what caused them.
“It will be great to be back in BSB and I need to show what I am still capable of. I know I can ride a Superbike and that is what I want to prove in BSB."
Linfoot's departure from SMT Honda comes despite some notable results this season, including two top six finishes at Thruxton, though he was unable to crack the top ten at the most recent Knockhill and Snetterton rounds.
A message on his Twitter account revealed he has lined up some races in the CEV Moto2 series for the remainder of the season, though the former Motorpoint Yamaha rider is bidding to get back into BSB soon.