James Ellison keeps Paul Bird ride for Le Mans

By Matthew Birt -

MotoGP

 11 May 2012 10:33

James Ellison will be on board the Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia ART machine at next weekend’s French MotoGP round, despite threats to replace him with BSB title contender Shane Byrne.

Bird had intimated during the recent Oulton Park BSB round that he would put Byrne on the bike to get his impressions after Ellison’s return to MotoGP has been blighted by a chronic chatter issue.

Ellison retired from the recent Estoril round in Portugal, the 31-year-old citing severe front-end chatter for his decision to pit.

That prompted Bird, who also runs a two-rider Kawasaki BSB effort with Byrne and Stuart Easton, to ponder replacing the Cumbrian in the Le Mans race to get a second opinion on the bike.

Bird though appears to have quickly backtracked when his squad issued a statement that Ellison will be riding in France.

The statement suggested Ellison’s future isn’t 100% secure as it read: “In order to assist with development with the project, the team considered utilising the services of another rider and whilst this remains an option either in future testing or in a race, the focus of the team will concentrate on James continuing to develop the machine in the forthcoming Grand Prix.

Phil Borley, Technical Director: "It was unfortunate that James didn't finish the race in Estoril but he proved what the machine was capable of in Jerez. This is a long-term project and we have to look at all options available to us in achieving our goals, which both the team and James understand.

"Our concentration is now on getting the technical help we need and to make more progress at Le Mans and Catalunya."