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Stepping up: How Team Traction Control became McAMS Yamaha

Despite what you may think, stepping up from British Supersport to the blue riband British Superbike class is no easy task, even if you have won races, bagged four Isle of TT wins and have the correct staff and support services in place to make it happen.

Team Traction Control - with the inimitable Keith Flint as figurehead - are doing just that and not by halves either. The squad have secured factory-backing from Yamaha to the same level as 2015 series winner Milwaukee Yamaha, taken on two proven winners in James Ellison and Michael Laverty, and also added Supersport Champion Tarran Mackenzie who is in to defend his title.

Grant Bunting is the man in operational control of the team. He admits it isn’t the first time thoughts of moving into the MCE-backed premier class have been floated but it was only now - with new title sponsors McAMS added to Monster and Came BPT - that all the ducks were in enough of a line to mount a serious challenge.


“It’s something we thought about last year, if I am honest, but we didn’t feel we were in a sound enough position to do it properly. We don’t tend to try and start something we can’t finish so we shelved it to focus on Supersport and the TT,” Bunting told BSN.

“We had been talking to Yamaha UK and Europe about moving up since the TT this year. We’ve had certain conversations with Andrea Dosoli at YME and with McAMS signing as a title sponsor, it all came together at the right time to do it.

“Over the last couple of years we have tried to build a team that we could take into BSB. We probably had some members of staff who were a bit overqualified for what they were doing but that had been my plan - to get the right people in the right environment so we could make the jump with as little difficulty as possible.”

Expectations will be high. The bikes that Ellison and Laverty will campaign are factory-backed and be very similar to the ones Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli stepped off after race two the Qatar WorldSBK finale. But there will be upgrades as Yamaha are desperate to get back the title they surrendered to Paul Bird and Shane Byrne at Brands in October.

Bunting is taking it all in his stride, however, and is confident his squad will be able to handle the pressure that is sure to come to bear.

“There is a certain amount of pressure because we will put pressure on ourselves to do a good job. We don’t want to move up and then rattle around in 15th place for two years. This why we have done it like this, we are prepared especially with the support and budget from Yamaha.

“Yamaha want to do a good job but I think we will deal with it. I think you need a certain amount of pressure to function. We are not expected to go and win every race but we could do with running at the front, there is no doubt about that.

“The support we are getting is the same as SMR had but there will be certain things that are more freely available just to get the job going. I think Yamaha have looked at what Birdy has done with the Ducati - plenty of factory input and staff - and it has worked, so Yamaha Europe have said to win it, they need some more input.”

Ellison, who with brother Dean was instrumental in bringing McAMS to the party, will wheel in crew chief Chris ‘Fringe’ Anderson from JG Speedfit while Laverty is re-united with former cake monster and ex-SMR man Pete Jennings. Yamaha will also send over electronics support too.


“There will be one data engineer coming from Yamaha Europe but we have a good understanding of data with the crew chiefs that we have. He will be the last part of the jigsaw, I think. We have been given an engine spec but PJ will build our motors as it’s easier to keep things in house.

“Chassis-wise, the bikes will be as Pata finshed with them in Qatar, save for electronics. There is an update to the 2017 Ohlins fork which we have ordered, the rest of the suspension will be the same, as will the brakes, swingarm and other things.”

So outside of Honda, McAMS Yamaha is as factory as British Superbikes gets and that extends to their Dickes Supersport title holder Tarran Mackenzie, who gets his own team within a team in order to get the new YZF-R6 a title in its first year.

“We have there are a couple of new members of staff to look after that. It will be run from the same garage and workshop but it will take a bit of pressure off the lads who are working on the Superbike.


“I think it will work really well, Taz is a super rider, a real nice character and the whole Mackenzie family are a pleasure to be involved with, so we are looking forward to that as much as BSB.”

Check back tomorrow for an exclusive with the twisted Firestarter himself, Mr Keith Flint…

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