Ellison shows class in Assen downpour
CUMBRIA’S James Ellison will line up on pole position for the first of today’s MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Assen.
As the series made its annual pilgrimage to the Dutch track, the weather was back to its usual tricks with heavy rain before and during yesterday’s Datatag Qualifying session.
The McAMS Yamaha pilot was one of a handful of riders who managed to stay upright in the conditions, which continued to get worse.
With just this weekend and then the final round at Brands Hatch in a fortnight left, it was all about which of the Showdown contenders could capitalise on the conditions to get the highest placed start.
Peter Hickman was the first to lose out, as he could only manage the 19th quickest time in Q1, and failed to go through to the second session.
But Q2 brought more drama as reigning and five times champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne crashed out. The Be Wiser Ducati rider made it back to the pits and back out again, but then crashed again on his out-lap.
This leaves him languishing way down in 16th position on the grid for the first race, and could spell the end of Paul Bird’s Penrith team’s championship hopes.
And Byrne wasn’t the only championship contender who struggled in Q2, as only current leader Leon Haslam made it through to the final shoot-out.
As the rain continued to hit, most of the riders took their turn to hit the top of the timesheets, with Ellison leading early on as his team-mate Michael Laverty crashed out.
Haslam moved to the top but was soon deposed by Brad Ray, Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon then went quickest, followed by Haslam.
But as the session entered its closing moments, it was Ellison who had the edge, slipping in a lap of 1:54.027mins to take pole ahead of Haslam, with Iddon third.
Dan Linfoot, who has come good in recent weeks after powering his Honda Racing Fireblade to wins at the last two rounds at Silverstone and Oulton Park, will head the second row.
The Wetherby rider may not be in with a chance of sealing the title, but he’s enjoying his new-found strong form.
Ray’s Buildbase Suzuki starts from fifth, ahead of American John Hopkins aboard the Moto Rapido Ducati.
Two local riders not in action this weekend are Burnopfield’s Chrissy Rouse and Stella’s Barry Teasdale.
The Pirelli National Superstock 1000 championship is not running at this event, nor is its 600cc counterpart, which means Northumberland team SGR Racing is also enjoying a weekend off ahead of the final round later this month.