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GP Week : Issue 30
5 Minutes with ... Tony Elias Toni Elias has two defining characteristics. One is his almost unfailing good humour: a toothy grin interrupted frequently by a hearty laugh. The other is a capacity for erratic brilliance. He’s one of the few who has actually beaten Rossi in a straight fight, in Portugal in 2006. This year, on a satellite Ducati, he was one of the three languishing at the back. Until suddenly after the summer break he got going: second at Brno and third at Misano. The first question was easy: GPWEEK: Toni, this year, you’ve gone from zero to hero. How? TONY ELIAS: (laughs extravagantly): I am the same, from the beginning of the season to now. What has changed is the (rear suspension) link. I asked for this in Le Mans; I received it in Sachsenring. At Laguna Seca I could have made the podium but I ran off. Then two podiums. Just changed this, and it made possible a different set-up of the bike. My confidence increased a lot … What exactly does the suspension link do? Changes the force on the rear tyre. Before the pressure was not so much – now there is good pressure to the tyre. It increases tyre temperature, and it’s possible to have more confidence to flick, possible to prepare the exit, and in the exit. Before it was half gas, now full gas! I thought you were more a front-wheel man, because you always used a special hard-compound front tyre and a soft rear. Yes, yes: I need a good front, but also to feel the rear. Because if I don’t feel the rear, I am dead. This year I am using the same front tyre as (Casey) Stoner and Valentino (Rossi), and it is a hard compound, because they are also strong on the front. What did it do to your mind, with the bad results earlier in the year? The situation when the results don’t come is difficult, but I always keep my strong belief 18 It has been a seemingly tough MotoGP season for Tony Elias after switching to a second Ducati squad. He explains it, and his perceptions of MotoGP, toMICHAEL SCOTT strong, and keep working. Don’t stop. Did you always know it was the bike? Did you doubt yourself? No. Never. Because if you have this doubt, then … finish. I know this situation from the past. This time I was stronger than other times. People treat you differently when the success comes. Yes – change a lot. I don’t like this. But if I had to listen to what everybody said, it would be difficult. Before the results materialised, I had no team for next year. Then after two podiums I had three options. Always we depend on results. The options were to stay with Alice Ducati, move to Kawasaki, or go back to the Gresini Honda team you rode for in 2006 and 2007. You will do the last thing, but how did you decide? I can say nothing about where I will go … (more laughter) Let’s put it another way, then. Were you happy with your previous team? Last year I was happy. We didn’t have very good material, but I was happy. Also now I am happy, with the team and the bike. Three races ago, I was not. I was very angry. You started your career in 125 and then 250 with Dani Pedrosa, in the Telefónica team. What happened that caused you to leave? Problems with Alberto Puig. Big problems. But after that … my future has been more difficult. But I don’t have the possibility to be there, so I have to do it my way. Very, very difficult, but I’m here, no? And I hope one day to have what I want. What kind of problem? I don’t want to say. Many things, but I can’t tell these things, because I can put many people against me. And that is not good for my future. Puig is very powerful, and very close to Dani Pedrosa. So is Dani a friend or an enemy? I … Dani is very good driver. I admire him. But I don’t like him. I don’t have a good relationship with him. I did more than 100 percent to try to have good relationship, but after some time I saw it was impossible. Then I don’t care … just stay correct: “Hi”and “Goodbye”. Is he an important target for you? I want to beat everybody. But for sure the Spanish guys, Lorenzo and Dani, are a good motivation. How about Rossi? You beat him in Portugal in 2006, and earlier that year you crashed into him in the first race. I admire a lot Valentino. More than Dani (laughs). I think he is the best in history. But Valentino, if you are behind him, you have a very good relationship. If you are closer, then this relationship is difficult. But I understand this. It’s normal. Riders … we are like this, no? Any racing hero? Yes. Wayne Rainey. When I was a child, I always watched him. Always Rainey, Rainey. One day, in 1996, I could make a picture with him. I have the picture at home, as a treasure. One day in 2004 he came to the track in Barcelona. I arranged to meet him. I wanted to speak to him like an idol, but he asked me about my problems. He was giving me advice. I said: I don’t want to speak about my problems, I want to speak about you! Are you still single? Do you have a secret wife hidden away? No, no. (laughs). Not for the moment. I want it though, because I think a rider with a serious relationship is more concentrated. If it is a good relationship. What’s your musical taste? Anything special? If it is good, I like it. Including classical music. But normally I listen to rock. U2 is my best group. I don’t like disco music very much.