ELIAS LIVES UP TO ESTORIL BATTLECRY, UNLUCKY DE ANGELIS BREAKS DOWN San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Toni Elias kept his promise of a fight through the MotoGP pack at Estoril today, recovering from a disappointing thirteenth on the grid to finish...
ELIAS LIVES UP TO ESTORIL BATTLECRY, UNLUCKY DE ANGELIS BREAKS DOWN
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Toni Elias kept his promise of a fight through the MotoGP pack at Estoril today, recovering from a disappointing thirteenth on the grid to finish sixth in the Grand Prix of Portugal. At the scene of his only premier-class win back in 2006 the Spaniard produced another fine example of his late-braking style to pass Marco Melandri on the opening lap followed by James Toseland and Randy de Puniet on lap two.
After closing the gap to the group in front over the next few laps he made further passes on Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden and a crash for Mika Kallio set him up for a thrilling battle for sixth over the final laps with Andrea Dovizioso, which he won by just 0.014 seconds at the line. His team-mate Alex De Angelis was forced to retire after developing an electrical problem on lap seven.
Toni Elias (6th - 46'11"231): "I made a mistake yesterday in qualifying and had to start from thirteenth, and even though I didn't get off the line as well as I would have liked I soon got into my rhythm and was able to produce a good fightback. The hardest part was getting past Hayden and Dovizioso but I was able to make a move on Andrea four laps from the end and I am delighted to have held on to sixth place, which is a position we deserve. We finished ahead of one of the factory team bikes and that is important. Today we moved up into the top ten of the championship and in two weeks time we go to a circuit where we know it will be tough for us but where we hope to get the points that will help us towards our objective of seventh in the championship. Of course I owe a big thank you to all the guys in my team, who have done a fantastic job again this weekend."
Alex De Angelis (DNF): "It is a tough day for us because it's always frustrating to be forced out of a race by a mechanical problem but we know these things can happen and for us it was the first time this season. It is disappointing that it happened in the race and not in practice because it would have given us a warning -- it was clearly an electrical problem though. This week the Honda engineers will run all the tests they need to do and they'll tell us exactly what the problem is and I'm sure it won't happen again. Obviously I'm disappointed because this was an important race for me and I really wanted to challenge for the top ten in the championship. Either way I'm confident because I love the next two tracks coming up and I'll be giving it my all again."
Fausto Gresini - Team Manager: "I'm really happy with Toni's race because it was always going to be difficult for him from the fifth row at a circuit where it is not particularly easy to overtake but he rode really well and showed a lot of belief in his own ability to take Dovizioso at the end. I'm delighted for him because it is a well-deserved sixth place. Congratulations to Toni and the team because they've done a great job together. I'm disappointed for Alex, who had an electrical problem and we'll look at it with the engineers now to try and work out what it was. He could have had a good race too today and it's a DNF we didn't want but that's racing."
-credit: gresini racing