James Ellison has switched to Smiths Racing BMW to remain in the Bennetts British Superbike championship for 2019.

Having announced his BSB retirement at the start of 2018, with his Anvil Hire Yamaha campaign set to be his last in the series, Ellison will stay in BSB next year with Smiths Racing BMW ahead of the arrival of the new S1000RR.

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Peter Hickman, who competes for Smiths both in BSB and on the roads, remains at the Gloucester-based squad for a third consecutive campaign having joined from JG Speedfit Kawasaki – where he was teammates with Ellison in 2016.

Reflecting on his 2018 BSB campaign, where he finished on the podium in the opening race before taking 14th place in the riders’ championship, Ellison felt he couldn’t end his career in the series while having a chance to fight for the title again.

“I had an incredibly difficult 2018 season for various reasons, we had great pace but were lacking one key component that stopped me from getting the results which both myself and the TAG team were capable of,” Ellison said, having use K-Tech suspension before switching to Ohlins at the 2018 final round. “They are such a friendly, family-run team that made me feel so welcome, so I want to say a huge thank you to them and I wish them the best of luck in the future.

“I figured it would be impossible to call 2018 my ‘last’ season in BSB after having so many successful seasons fighting for the championship and it is just not in my nature to walk away knowing I can still fight for the BSB title given the right tools.”

Ellison is naturally relishing a fresh opportunity for 2019 reuniting with familiar face Hickman and getting to grips with the new S1000RR.

“The Smiths Racing BMW team have had another strong season with Hicky proving they are true title contenders and I’m delighted to be teaming up with Hicky again,” he said.

“We are really good friends off track but of course tough rivals on it and I believe we will push each other all year and work closely together to speed up the development of the all-new BMW S1000RR. The support from the fans has been incredible, even when I was struggling, which means so much to me and I can’t wait to start testing in March.”

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