M2: Australian GP: Gresini Racing preview

PHILLIP ISLAND TO WELCOME THE NEW WORLD CHAMPION Toni Elias lived the dream at Sepang, the Team Gresini rider fulfilling the objective he set himself at the start of the season. The Spaniard has been consistently amongst the frontrunners all ...


Toni Elias lived the dream at Sepang, the Team Gresini rider fulfilling the objective he set himself at the start of the season. The Spaniard has been consistently amongst the frontrunners all season and has seven wins so far, overcoming problems with determination alongside his Team Gresini colleagues to become the first Moto2 World Champion in history. After a tense weekend in Malaysia Toni travels to Australia in relaxed mood, knowing he can enjoy the final three races of the season as the World Champion. Team Gresini's Russian rider Vladimir Ivanov is hopeful for better luck this weekend after crashing out of the race at Sepang.

Toni Elias "Sepang wasn't an easy weekend -- everybody was telling me I was going to become World Champion but I am superstitious and that made me tense. It was to be expected but I would have preferred not to hear it. In the end we reached our objective and it was liberating. My dream has become a reality and Sunday turned into a long night, with so many interviews and my desire to share the title success with everybody. I wanted to be World Champion for everybody and I was able to celebrate it with my team and my family, it was a fantastic moment. I cried and held in my heart the people who are no longer with us and everybody close to me. Now I can go to Australia feeling more relaxed and try to do the title justice at a circuit I love."

Vladimir Ivanov "It was a really difficult weekend for me at Sepang. I wasn't able to get on the pace at all and in the race I crashed. I go to Australia with the determination to make up for such a disappointing performance. I don't know the track but everybody says it's the nicest one on the calendar so I hope I can have a good Grand Prix."

Fausto Gresini "Sunday at Sepang was a memorable day. To have won the title again at the same circuit where we clinched the 250cc World Championship with Daijiro Kato in 2001 was fantastic. I am delighted because Elias has completely deserved to realise this dream. Like us he had belief in this project and thanks to his determination we have seen it through ahead of schedule. It is a success I want to share with all the guys from the team, Moriwaki and everybody who has supported us, from the sponsors to the fans. Sunday was wonderful and now we go to Phillip Island feeling much more calm and ready to show we are worthy champions. We want to make our full contribution to Moto2, a category we had a lot of faith in and that is something we aim to maintain -- in the present and the future, always with strength and determination."


Growing up in the family bike shop in Manresa as the son of a ten-times Spanish motocross champion, Toni Elias was destined for a career on two wheels. His early forays into the sport came in pocket-bike and scooter racing, before he began his pro career in the Spanish 125cc Championship in 1998. After finishing third in the national series the following year he won a ride on a Honda for his first full Grand Prix season in 2000. It was in 2001, however, when the teenager became the revelation of the year after signing up to ride with the junior project run by Alberto Puig, battling for the lower cylinder category title until the end of the season. He won two races and finished an impressive third, up to this year his equal-best championship finish. Elias' natural talent and fearless aggression saw him make the successful step up to the 250cc class in 2002, challenging Manuel Poggiali for the title in 2003 until a last-lap crash at Rio cost him victory and the chance of the championship. Elias struggled to reproduce his best form after switching from Aprilia to Honda for 2004, but flashes of brilliance convinced Fortuna Yamaha to draft him into the MotoGP class in 2005. The learning process under the Yamaha banner, forming a team with Ruben Xaus, was curtailed by an injury in France, but in the final third of the season Elias was able to demonstrate his evolution in the category. The Spaniard then rode for two years with Fausto Gresini's satellite Honda outfit, during which time he continued to show why he is regarded as one of the most exciting riders in MotoGP. His debut victory came at Portugal in 2006, in one of the greatest races of all time against Valentino Rossi and Kenny Roberts Jr., and although injury at his bogey track of Assen severely affected his 2007 season, he still impressed enough for Luis d'Antin to keep him in the category with his Ducati satellite team. The Ducati venture proved to be a brief sojourn as, one season of mixed results and a pair of podiums after joining the Alice team, Elias was welcomed back to San Carlo Honda Gresini to spearhead their 2009 project. His first season with top-end machinery, riding a semi-factory Honda RC212V, saw the Catalan rider make 12 top-10 finishes, with a third place podium at Brno. Despite this Elias was unable to secure a MotoGP ride for 2010 and instead continue his partnership with Gresini Racing in Moto2, riding a Moriwaki MD600 He started the year as one of the title favourites in the Moto2 class, and throughout the season his wealth of experience and race-craft has shone through as he claimed seven wins, including four in a row over the summer period. His characteristic "hang-on" riding style and charming personality has won him millions of fans across the globe, and the Spaniard becomes the first ever Moto2 World Champion at the age of 27.

-source: gresini racing

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Kenny Roberts Jr. , Ruben Xaus , Toni Elias , Luis d'Antin , Vladimir Ivanov , Phillip Island