James Ellison insists it is still his intention to compete in the British Superbike Championship next season, despite accepting an invite to test Cal Crutchlow's World Supersport title-winning Yamaha R6 at Portimao.
Ellison had originally gone to Portugal to support friend and former AMA rival Ben Spies in his quest to win the World Superbike Championship, but was offered the opportunity to stay behind and sample the R6 by Yamaha SSP boss Wilco Zeelenberg.
Given an hour on track, although no official lap times were released by the team, Ellison reveals he was lapping a pace similar to that of the top five over the race weekend.
"It was awesome and a great opportunity for me to test Cal's bike today,” he told the BSB website. “I had about an hour on track and in that time I was able to run the pace that the top five had at the weekend on race distance tyres without making any changes to Cal's settings.
“The last time I rode a Supersport bike was in 2002 and it has changed since then, it has loads more power now and you can wrestle it around and be more physical than you can on the Superbike. It is much lighter and reacts more to the movement and you have to keep it revving all the time, but it has some mega electronics and a great chassis. It was just a fantastic package.
"I had gone to Portugal to watch the racing and see Ben (Spies); we raced together in AMA and we are good mates so I wanted to go and see him finish the job and catch up with a few people. I spoke to Laurens Klein Koerkamp who is the Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Manager over the weekend, as I knew him from before, and team manager Wilco Zeelenberg to see if I could have a test on the Supersport bike.
“They had planned to test a couple of riders and I didn't find out for definite until the end of the weekend, so I called and checked it was ok with Colin (Wright) and that is how it all happened. I borrowed Cal's kit - his leathers, gloves and boots as he is the same size as me; it gave the photographers something to look out for as we were almost identical!”
However, while Ellison – a former Superstock 1000 champion – was excited by the opportunity to ride a World Supersport machine again, he maintains it is still his plan to compete again with GSE Racing in British Superbikes.
"At the moment my plan is to stay with GSE Racing in BSB next season as I have a two year contract with the team, but we are waiting on a title sponsor. I have done my first year with GSE and finished second so for 2010 the aim is to come back with them and have a real stab at the title."