Bike Animal announced its involvement in the BSB for 2008 at a special bash at the Sports Café in Manchester on Tuesday afternoon. After a successful season in 2007 with Hondas UK satellite team, Bike Animal managing director Robert Williams revealed that the brand will be teaming up with the Hydrex Honda outfit next season in the form of the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda team.
The biggest news of the afternoon was that, just days after the ink dried on the contract, former MotoGP star James Ellison was confirmed for a seat with the team in 2008. After spending a year in the American AMA series, Ellison set his mind on a move back to the British Superbike Championship, and for him, as soon as Hydrex Bike Animal Honda revealed their interest, his mind was made up. Taking his place alongside Ellison in the paddock will be road racing ace Guy Martin, who secured his second term with the Hydrex Honda team with a series of dazzling displays on the road last season.
Bikeanimal.com was at the launch and took time out to talk with both riders about the past, the present and the future.
Bikeanimal.com: Hi James, how does it feel knowing youll be back racing in the UK?
James Ellison: Im really excited. Ive been in middle of nowhere for the past year, so Ive been doing my homework! Im really looking forward to getting back to some of my favourite circuits, including Cadwell Park, its a great one for the spectators, Oulton Park and Brands Hatch too.
BA: Do you think that youve learnt anything from your time in America?
JE: Definitely, the circuits are similar to the ones in the UK, theyre fairly stop-start whereas in Europe and a lot of the MotoGP circuits theyre incredibly quick and flowing. I obviously learnt to battle with a different set of guys, and that always stands you in good stead for the future.
BA: Do you think that youve got an advantage over the rest of the lads having competed in MotoGP?
JE: The only advantage I can see is that Ive had experience at the top level with the best equipment and the best personnel. You learn at the top level to work with your team, and its something I can use this time around. Im not sure whether that will put me at an immediate advantage, but Im sure it helps. Ive learnt a lot over the past few years, but the main thing is that I know now that youve got to work very closely with your team if you want to be successful.
BA: What attracted you to the Bike Animal Hydrex Honda team?
JE: They expressed their interest towards the end of last year, but initially I wanted to stay in America, so I didnt really follow that up. So when I decided that I wanted to come back to the UK and I heard that Shauns team were interested, (Shaun Muir, Hydrex Bike Animal Honda team owner) I was really excited about it. I was worried because I thought that there might not be any good teams left, but Im happy with the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda team. Shaun is very experienced and all the technical aspects of the bike are how I would like them to be. The way the rules have been changed means that its easier for a privateer team to compete with the big boys.
BA: What are your ambitions for this year?
JE: Id be disappointed if I wasnt top six every weekend. I know that theres six to eight factory bikes out there so I know its going to be difficult. But Im confident, the teams confident and everythings as its meant to be.
BA: Thanks a lot James, and good luck for next season.
Bikeanimal.com: Hello Guy. First of all, was it important for you to stay with the Hydrex Honda team?
Guy Martin: Yeah, theyre a cracking bunch of lads, they dont blow their own trumpet and theyre just great to be around. If Im riding like a fool then theyll tell me. If I were to go and ride for another team for next years TT, then youve got to get to know all the lads, get to know how everything works, but here I know that already.
BA: Youre perhaps more famous for your exploits on the road. What would be more important to you this year, winning the TT senior race, or winning five rounds of the BSB?
GM: No competition, TT all the way! If you win a round of the BSB, youre forgotten about the following week. But if you win a TT and set a lap record nobodys going to forget that in a hurry are they?!
BA: What would you like to get out of this year?
GM: I want to be consistently in the top eight at every meeting, thats the plan, and hopefully work my way up from there.
BA: Youre a fan favourite. Why do you think that is?
GM: I dont know! I just speak my mind, Ive got no airs and graces, and I dont blow smoke up anyones arse!
BA: Thanks a lot Guy, and good luck.
GM: Jobs a peach boy.