CONTRASTING FORTUNES FOR ELIAS AND DE ANGELIS AT SOAKING SEPANG
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Toni Elias produced a display of control and concentration today as he took a valuable seventh place in the Malaysian Grand Prix, whilst a disappointing twelfth for his team-mate Alex de Angelis means the pair are now level on points in the championship with one round remaining.
Whilst De Angelis hopes' were raised by the apparition of a monsoon rainstorm just moments before the riders were due to take to the track for their sighting lap, causing the start to be delayed by 36 minutes, the reverse was true for Elias, who is not usually comfortable riding in the wet. However, their fortunes in the race were also juxtaposed as the San Marino rider -- normally a wet weather specialist - struggled to keep the pace with the front group as the Spaniard took up the chase, lapping fourth over the opening six laps before losing ground to a handful of riders, including today's championship winner Valentino Rossi.
The pair are now ninth and tenth respectively in the rider standings with Chris Vermeulen eleventh, all three locked on 105 points, whilst Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi are just three points ahead of them in seventh and eighth -- setting up what promises to be an exciting season finale at Valencia on 8th November.
Toni Elias (7th): "I saw the rain just before we were due to go out for the sighting lap and I thought 'madre mia, this isn't good for us!' As it turned out it was completely the opposite and with seventh place and some bad results for my rivals we have actually made up more ground in the championship than we might have hoped to if it was dry. I'm really pleased with the result but also with the performance because riding in the wet is not usually our strong point. I don't know if it was because the track temperature was higher here but I didn't struggle as much as I expected for grip. Unfortunately it wasn't quite enough to run with the top guys again but in general we have to be satisfied with this Grand Prix."
Alex De Angelis (12th): "I was so confident that I could have a strong race in the rain today but for whatever reason I never felt comfortable with the wet setting here and I couldn't get going. The rear was spinning up everywhere and it was all I could to hang on and bring it home in the points. It's a real shame because this could have been a good opportunity for us to make up more ground in the championship. It's a missed chance but at the same time my rivals didn't capitalise on it and we are still within three points of seventh place, which is my objective when we head for the final race at Valencia."
Fausto Gresini - Team Manager: "Toni made a great start and was able to run with the front guys over the opening laps. In the end seventh place is pretty satisfying, especially considering the conditions that the race took place in. we were hoping for a bit more from Alex, who unfortunately struggled to cope with the conditions and couldn't finish any higher than twelfth. Anyway, both of them are still very much in the hunt for seventh in the championship, which we will fight for at Valencia."
-credit: gresini racing