The GBmoto Racing team are readying themselves for their first official pre-season test ahead of the 2015 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship opener at Donington Park.
JG Speedfit Kawasaki riders, James Ellison and James Westmoreland, will head to Cartagena this Thursday alongside the team’s road racer, Gary Johnson.
All three will take to the track for a four-day test on their Kawasaki ZX-10R machines, which have already shown some impressive results on the Dyno.
Ahead of the trip to Spain, Ellison expressed his excitement of getting back out onto the track on the ZX-10R.
He said: “I’m raring to go for this test, I’m starting the season with the same team and bike but crucially they’ve also made some great updates over the winter. I didn’t need a new bike, it was all going well and now we have some redeveloped, strong engines.
“I might not have got out on tarmac since the last BSB round but we’ve certainly put some miles in on every other type of bike; trials, motocross, flat track, mountain bike, cycling, all in good weather in Texas where my wife is from. There was quite an element of competition to it all so I feel pretty sharp and back to full fitness… and ready to go!”
Ellison’s new teammate for 2015 is also looking forward to the Spanish test as he looks to adjust to the Kawasaki as soon as possible following an injury-wrecked 2014 campaign on the Buildbase BMW.
Westmoreland said: “It’s been almost four months since the NEC and joining the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team so to say I’m excited to get on the ZX-10R is an understatement! It’s a completely new adventure for me and GBmoto proved last year they have the credentials to win BSB, so it’s now up to me and James to try and do just that.
“I’ve not really got any predictions for how the bike will be, I try not to overthink it too much beforehand so I’m looking forward to the first few laps and seeing how the ZX-10R compares to previous bikes I’ve ridden. We’ve got quite a few things to test over both Cartagena and Guadix so we’re certainly going to be busy – although Cartagena will be more of a ‘shakedown’ test to make sure I’m comfortable and everything is working OK, then Guadix and Donington we can focus on set-up to ensure we’re ready to challenge from race one!
“It’s really good for me that both James and Gary are there too. I know Gary very well and although I don’t really know James, that will soon change and having him in the garage is going to be a big boost – he proved last year the bike is competitive and I’m sure we’ll both be able to help each other in certain aspects.”
The superbike pairing will be joined by Johnson, who will ride for GBmoto in the North West 200, Isle of Man and Ulster Grand Prix events on both Superbike and Superstock machinery.
Ahead of the test, Johnson said: “I’m really looking forward to getting out with boys and begin work, it seems a long time since we announced so I’m ready to hit the track! I’ll have a bit more on my plate to work through than the James’ as I’ll have both the Superstock and Superbike out there, but it’s going to be really helpful having them both there at the same time and should hopefully help shorten the time spent on setting the Superbike up.
“I’ve ridden the Superstock ZX-10R for the past two years and have had some good success on it, so I’ve brought that knowledge to the table with me so I’m hopeful we’ll be starting from a good base on that. Although I’ve been on another manufacturer for the best part of my Superbike career, it’s been down to budget primarily and the Kawasaki has been my desired bike so I’m really excited to getting out on it and seeing what’s what!
“Although Cartagena and Guadix might not be particularly fast and flowing circuits, they will let us see where we need to develop the bikes further ahead of the North West 200 where I’m confident we’ll be able to challenge for top honours!”
2014 saw the JG Speedfit squad become the official factory-backed Kawasaki team as they went on to record an impressive 13 podium finishes. Since the end of the season the team have been busy upgrading behind the scenes, securing a brand new race truck, along with a new hospitality unit for their sponsors to entertain guests.
The team have also been building on the experience and knowledge gained from 2014 and Team Principal, Mark Smith-Halvorsen, is full of confidence ahead of the first round at Donington.
He said: “With this extensive testing schedule, coupled with a year of development under our belts and enjoying an even closer relationship with Kawasaki I’m confident that we’ll be in a position to challenge for victory at Donington Park.
“The team have been working tirelessly over the winter months to further improve our Superbikes. We’ve listened to what both riders have wanted and looked at our strengths and weaknesses from 2014 to take another step forward for this season. We have already decided a 10 day plan, which is exactly what we have on track before the first two races of the season in BSB and we know exactly how we intend to use them.”
Following the four-day test at Cartagena, the team will travel to Guadix for three more days of testing before finishing their pre-season at Donington Park for the official one-day test on March 26.
After that the team will have just one week to prepare for the opening round of the 2015 BSB Championship, which takes place over the Bank Holiday Weekend.