British rider James Ellison is confident he will be able to get much closer to the pace of the fastest CRT machines when he returns to the track on the new Aprilia ART 1000cc bike at the Motorland Aragon track next week.
Ellison enjoyed a successful shakedown test on the new ART machine in Jerez last week as he prepares for his first season in the MotoGP world championship since 2006.
He logged a best time of 1.42.526 to finish 2.2s behind Frenchman Randy de Puniet in Jerez, who is also riding the Aprilia ART machine, which is based heavily on the Italian factory’s RSV4 World Superbike contender.
The 31-year-old will be back on track on March 8 for his second test on the Aprilia machine and he told MCN: “Last week was just a shakedown test so it was a case of blowing away the cobwebs for me and the team as well as all of us are learning about a completely new bike.
"But I was quite impressed with the times I did because we haven’t pushed at all yet and the bike was only fitted with steel brakes. The potential is massive. We were learning each time I went out and the positive thing was the last lap of a run, the next time I went out I’d start with that lap time.
"So if I ended one run with a 1.44.3 then the next time I went out I’d be able to match that immediately. We just kept improving until I got into the 1.42 bracket and then right at the end I was staying consistent.
"The bike is really promising and I’m looking forward to Aragon. That will be a proper test for us. Jerez was purely a shakedown test but I will be disappointed if I come away from Aragon and I’m not a lot closer to the other CRT guys that are there.
"I wasn’t disappointed with the times in Jerez because we didn’t go there for that reason but Aragon certainly we have to be closer.
"That will be a proper test and I’m definitely looking forward to that. But we didn’t try that much in Jerez because I spent a lot of time just getting myself up to speed. It will be in Aragon when we will be really looking to start banging some lap times out.”
For more from Paul Bird Motorsport rider Ellison on his Aprilia debut, see the February 29 issue of MCN.