Smiths Racing BMW have announced that James Ellison will line-up alongside Peter Hickman at the team for the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike season.
Ellison endured a difficult 2018 with Anvil Hire TAG Racing and had hinted at possible move away from the series, but is now focused on having one more push for the BSB title.
Having come close on a number of occasions, Ellison believes that he has now joined a team which can provide him with a race winning bike. Speaking about the move, he said:
“First of all I just want to thank Alan, Rebecca and Darren for giving me this opportunity. 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. 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. 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. 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.”
Hickman remains with the Gloucester-based team for a third season, after a year of mixed fortunes in BSB. The 31-year-old ended the year fifth overall, following a strong end to the campaign. One key moment in particular was the double podium at Thruxton, achieved just hours after he was released from hospital with a kidney infection.
The road racer is delighted to have signed for another year and believes that with Ellison joining the team, they now have one of the strongest line-ups on the grid. He said:
“I’m absolutely over the moon to be staying with Smiths Racing for 2019. Myself, Rebecca, Alan and all the team get on so well and really gel as our results prove, so staying with them was always what I wanted. And now we’re welcoming James into the fold too, someone I’ve worked with before in 2016 and we got on great, he helped me a lot that year and I really think we’ll motivate and push each other. He’s a championship contender and so am I, so between us we have one of the strongest teams on the grid and to say I’m excited is an understatement.”
Ellison and Hickman will ride the brand-new BMW S1000RR machine next season, which gets underway at Silverstone over Easter next year (April 19-21). After another successful road racing season, including victories at the Isle of Man TT, North West 200, Ulster Grand Prix, and Macau Grand Prix, Hickman will once again contest the full closed roads programme.