By Peter McLaren
Blata WCM rider James Ellison has revealed there is a slight chance that the team's new V6 machine, which wasn't completed in time for pre-season testing, could make an appearance at this weekend's season-opening Spanish Grand Prix.
"They've got some figures for the (V6) engine - they haven't told me what they are - but they said a lot of people will be surprised at how fast it will actually be," said James who, along with team-mate Franco Battaini, has been riding last year's Harris WCM four-cylinder during testing.
"The (V6) has been under development for the past four years - a lot of people don't really know that and are saying; 'Is it going to happen? When's it going to be out?' The worst thing now is that it was meant to be out for the first race, and it doesn't look like that will happen, so people are a bit sceptical about it.
"But I've seen pictures of the bike, they've more or less finished it now - there's just a few electrical components they're waiting for to get the thing on the dyno," he continued. "All of us in the team are just praying for the thing to come out for the first race - and there still is a slight chance it could be there.
"The only problem is, if it's not, then obviously we roll on to Estoril the week after and then everything gets crated up and it's off to China. So if it's not there for the first race then it'll be at Le Mans."
And what does the V6 - an early sketch of which can be seen in the top picture - look like?
"It's red! That's about as much as I know: It's red, got two wheels and two exhaust pipes - they'd like to have six but it's not possible," revealed the former World Endurance and BSB Cup champion. "I don't know too much to be honest; they haven't given a lot away, which is not a bad thing as it keeps us on our toes and waiting for it.
"We're still concentrating on the WCM thing. Although we're not developing the engine, we're still developing tyres for the V6. So we're still doing a job out there," he added. "The V6 chassis is completely new, but I think a lot of the ideas are going to come from the WCM bike.
"The V6 frame, swingarm and everything is completely different, but geometry wise I think the balance of the bike might be pretty similar because it (the Harris WCM) does work - it handles really well," he added.
"Shakey (Byrne) commented on it; he was following me at Jerez and said the thing really does work well. So as long as they can put that kind of engineering into the V6 we shouldn't do too bad."