Japanese GP: Gresini Honda race report

Toni Elias splashed his way bravely through the rain and played his race tactics perfectly to finish on the podium at Motegi. The Gresini Honda rider clocked the fastest lap of the race on his way to third place, with his team-mate Marco Melandri...

Toni Elias splashed his way bravely through the rain and played his race tactics perfectly to finish on the podium at Motegi. The Gresini Honda rider clocked the fastest lap of the race on his way to third place, with his team-mate Marco Melandri just two positions further back. It was a Bridgestone lock-out on the podium, with Loris Capirossi taking the victory ahead of Randy De Puniet and Toni Elias. Casey Stoner finished just behind Melandri in sixth place to clinch the title.

Starting from the second row, Elias got away well but made an early mistake that saw him drop all the way back to tenth. The Spaniard then set about making up positions and when the track started to dry he timed his pit-stop perfectly on the ninth lap. Once he had gathered his confidence on the slick tyres, Elias charged through to third place behind De Puniet and held off a strong challenge from Sylvain Guintoli.

Melandri also produced a fantastic performance but was penalised by the fact that he led for the majority of the race and couldn't see when other riders were entering the pits. He eventually came in eleven laps from the end but didn't have enough time to recover his position and was forced to settle for fifth place.

Toni Elias

"I'm really happy to be back on the podium. This is an incredible result after the accident at Assen. It's been a tough couple of months for me and this was a nice reward. I got a good start but I lost a few positions and found myself some way back. I didn't have anything to lose so I came in early to change bikes. It proved to be the perfect time and the perfect strategy. In general it has been a perfect day, following on from a difficult weekend and a particularly tough race."

Marco Melandri

"I was having a good race in the wet, my feeling with the bike was really good and I was able to take over from Stoner and build a bit of a lead. When the track started to dry it was really difficult for me because I was leading the race and it was hard to judge the right moment to come and change the bike because there were still some wet patches. When they told me from pit wall to come in I did so but it was a few laps too late to come in. It took me a couple of laps to get used to the bike with the dry setting and I made a mistake that cost me a few places. I'm disappointed because I could have fought for the win today. Unfortunately the flag to flag rule puts the race leaders at a disadvantage. The positive thing is that I've closed the gap to fifth and fourth in the championship, with Vermeulen now four points ahead of me and Hopkins eight."

credit: gh

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Loris Capirossi , Marco Melandri , Toni Elias , Sylvain Guintoli , Casey Stoner