It was a difficult end to 2018 for the Anvil Hire TAG Racing team at Brands Hatch, with James Ellison failing to finish both races on Sunday, crashing out in race two and retiring from race three after an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s first race. Shaun Winfield enjoyed a strong weekend, posting a new personal best around the Brands Hatch GP circuit, collecting five points over the weekend to round out his most successful season to date.
Following three positive free practice sessions, where both James and Shaun continued to improve their times, they both headed into Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session high in confidence.
James and Shaun qualified in 11th and 25th respectively after a solid session where Winfield posted a new personal best around the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
James made it through in to Q2 and sat in ninth on the verge of getting through into Q3. But two riders improved in time with seconds remaining and dropped the Cumbrian to 11th.
As the lights went out both riders made great starts, with James picking up one place and Shaun two places. By the fifth lap James had worked his way into eighth place and began to battle with Danny Buchan and Josh Brookes.
The Cumbrian made light work of the Kawasaki rider, and then went in pursuit of Brookes. Ellison chipped away at the gap, but he just ran out of laps, crossing the line in eighth position.
Shaun made a great start to the race, after avoiding being taken out, and started to battle with Josh Elliot for 19th place. However, with just five laps to go, Shaun’s bike developed a technical issue, forcing him to retire from the race.
For Sunday’s afternoon opening race, James would start from 12th and Shaun 25th on a damp track following intermittent rain.
From the lights both riders made great leaps off the line, with James making up four places after the opening lap and Shaun advancing two places to 23rd.
Eight laps into the race James began to move his way forward, setting the fastest lap of the race as he went in pursuit of the leading group.
Five laps later Ellison sat on the back of the leading group of five and looked the strongest on track. However, with just six laps to go, James crashed out as he pushed hard to pass Christian Iddon.
Shaun began to battle hard with Aaron Zanotti for the whole race, swapping and changing places throughout the race. The 25-year-old held the lead between the pair until the final lap, and crossed the line in 13th place, collecting his best ever finish in Bennetts British Superbikes.
For the final race of the 2018 season James would start from second on the grid, and the middle of the front row courtesy of his lap time, with Shaun starting from 25th.
James made a tough start to the final race, dropping to 15th after the opening lap. His team had worked around the clock to repair his machine prior to the race but four laps in he was forced to retire from the race due to a problem with his bike.
Shaun continued to battle after picking up five places on the opening lap, and he continued to work his way forward throughout the race. He started to chase down Mason Law ahead, but after making a few mistakes he dropped back off the Kawasaki man’s coat tails.
‘Munch’ pushed hard all the way in tricky wet conditions, picking up 15th place and a further point to his Championship tally.
James Ellison: “It’s been a tough end to the weekend, I had great pace in the first race on Sunday, I caught the leading group and I was having to override the bike in places which just caught me out and I crashed.
“The lads worked around the clock to get the bike repaired, but when I started the race something just didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want to risk anything for myself and the team. It has been such a frustrating year for me and the team, but we didn’t stop working hard to fix the issues.
“I wanted to round out the year with a podium, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I want to thank everyone at Anvil Hire TAG Racing, they’ve worked so hard and I can’t thank them enough.”
Shaun Winfield: “It has been a good weekend for me, I’ve posted a new personal best lap time and come away with a handful of points, which was my plan before I came here. This year I feel I have grown as a Superbike rider and that is down to the work that Chris and team have put in to help me to build my confidence. This has shown in results with my best ever year, a career best finish and my highest ever points total.
We’ve evolved the bike this year and this weekend it was much easier and a joy to ride. I’m already planning for 2019 building on what I have learnt this year, where I believe I can be consistently in the top 15. I need to say a massive thank you to everybody who has helped this year, especially Chris, James and Martin as well as all my sponsors and everyone who supports me along the way.”
Team owner Rob Winfield: “It has been a tough season but as a team we’ve stuck together and taken the positives. This weekend has been a weekend of two halves. We were close to getting a podium in Race 2, but unfortunately James crashed out. I am really proud of Shaun, not only has he had a good weekend this weekend, he’s had his best season result to date and I know he will build on this in 2019.
The team have worked really hard all season and have taken the good with the bad to help both Shaun and James develop the bikes and keep pushing on. We are already looking ahead to 2019 and are planning on it being a much stronger year. I need to thank all of the sponsors that make this happen, and all of our partners that help us throughout the year. Without them none of this would be possible.”
The Bennetts British Superbike Championship returns in April 2019, the Anvil Hire TAG Racing Team will announce their plans for the 2019 campaign within the coming weeks.