ELIAS TAKES SUPER SIXTH IN FINAL MOTOGP APPEARANCE FOR SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI
Toni Elias made his final appearance for the San Carlo Honda Gresini MotoGP team - at least for the immediate future - with a trademark charge to sixth place at Valencia, whilst his team-mate Alex de Angelis signed off with a creditable top ten. Elias made a thunderous start from the third row of the grid to pass Valentino Rossi around the outside of the first turn and claim second place behind early leader Dani Pedrosa, battling tooth and nail for every inch of track over the next 30 laps but eventually conceding positions to the Italian, as well as Jorge Lorenzo, Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden and finishing just 0.3 seconds behind the latter American.
The result was enough to seal a coveted seventh place in the championship that no fewer than six riders had designs on before the red lights went out today, covered as they were by just seven points going into this final race. Tenth place for De Angelis means he finishes the season just behind his team-mate in eighth overall.
Toni Elias (6th in the race, 7th in the championship on 115 points): "I started the weekend with a bit of a cold, which hasn't helped, and we had a few technical issues to resolve too. The team have done a great job though to give me a bike that I was able to ride to the maximum in qualifying yesterday and in the race today, which gave me the opportunity to take seventh place in the championship, which six riders were going for. I was calm going into the race because I know I usually start well and after that it was a case of pushing as hard as I could to stay with the front guys, who were on another planet again here. I managed to stick it out with Nicky and Colin for the whole race although they were slightly faster than me and it was an effort to stay with them. In the end I knew seventh place in the championship was ours if I could finish sixth so I gritted my teeth to the end. There are so many people I want to thank. My MotoGP adventure is over for now but I hope to be back as soon as possible after taking on the new challenge that awaits me, starting tomorrow, in Moto2."
Alex De Angelis (10th in the race, 8th in the championship on 111 points): "I'm happy because we've finished the season with a good position in the championship, virtually the first satellite rider if you consider that Edwards is a test rider on pretty much factory machinery and Elias was on the factory Honda. We're also ahead of the two factory Suzukis. It was a difficult race today because the rear was sliding around a lot but I think I held my own and did pretty well with what we had. I want to thank all the sponsors and everybody in the team for helping me make this position in the championship possible. "
Fausto Gresini - Team Manager: "I am particularly happy today because seventh and eighth in the championship for Toni and Alex is the best way we could have hoped to finish this championship. We have been on the podium twice this year and it is always our ambition and our target to improve. Naturally I want to thank Alex for contesting his first two seasons in MotoGP with us, during which time I think we have given him the opportunity to demonstrate his potential, and Toni who has worked with us before and has achieved his highest championship position in MotoGP this season. I also want to thank San Carlo for their support and for believing in our project, which we will continue together in MotoGP next year, and all our technical partners. Last but not least I want to thank all the guys in the team for continuing to work with such determination to always achieve the best possible results."
Alberto Vitaloni - President of San Carlo Gruppo Alimentare: "It has given us great pleasure once again to work so closely with Fausto Gresini and his team this year. We have a great professional relationship but more than that we have a wonderful personal rapport. It is important for our brand to be associated with a young and dynamic world such as motorcycle racing and to be competitive within it, as we are in business. On a sporting level the second half of the season in particular has gone very well and we hope it carries through to next season."
-credit: gresini racing