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GP Week : Issue 60
5 MINUTES WITH ... Toni Elias Once again, Toni Elias finds himself pondering his MotoGP future. But the likeable Spaniard still had time for a chat with MICHAEL SCOTT Toni Elias had just found out that his job prospects in MotoGP had disappeared. All the same, the 25-year-old Spaniard gave GPWeek an interview full not only of his usual laughs, but of promises to prove those who had turned him down wrong. He also revealed an unexpected fashion flair, and a yen for Zen. And the next day he finished third, defeating Dovizioso’s factory Honda to fill the spot left vacant by Stoner. GPWEEK: Toni, why such an up-and-down year? TONI ELIAS:: Not up and down. Just start bad. For the first five races I had the 2009 frame, the frame Pedrosa and Dovizioso did not want. Then at Mugello I started with the same frame as (team-mate) de Angelis, the standard-bike frame, and it felt much better. After that I did some good practices and good qualifying … but some crashes also. After Assen we improve a lot the frame, to feel the new-rule tyres more. Up to Donington (the last round), was a good race – but I was over the limit, so finally … big crash. I want to make some podiums. Difficult right now, because of five or six official riders, who are really strong. But I will try to beat someone. (The famous teeth flash in his everready and undeniably infectious grin.) What are you up against? The Yamaha is a step ahead. It is a good package. Engine, frame – they are a good combination. A balance the Honda lacks? In the last three races, I see that Honda has improved a lot. Only the official team, but finally not enough to beat Yamaha. But I think Honda has the potential to beat Yamaha. Even this year. Still seven races. You have a factory bike. Do you get factory engine upgrades too? No. Same engine since the winter. But I never complain about my engine. Always the frame, because it was impossible to work the new tyre. Now we make a big step for this – more weight on the rear. It’s not as I want, but much better. This year it has been very difficult to set up the bike to adapt to the tyre. Back in the day, Bridgestone made special Toni Elias tyres. Have you suffered a lot with the single-tyre rule? Yes, we suffered. Also Dovizioso and Pedrosa suffered a lot, in the official team. But I’m happy now because the bike is working more or less okay, and I am more 1 relaxed, because I know I can do it. Then the future … we will see what happens. It’s not easy. (Teeth flash again.) The future was my next question. What is happening? I want to concentrate on the next races, because I love the next four tracks (Brno, Indianapolis, San Marino and Portugal). I have four good possibilities. The future is not clear, but for me the situation is always like this. We know results change the situation. I have experience about that. (The teeth flash brightly.) If MotoGP doesn’t work out, what about Moto2, or World Superbike? Last year if somebody asked me for that, I said no, only MotoGP. Now of course I want MotoGP, but it want to feel somebody really wants me. If I don’t feel this here, I’m open to Superbike or Moto2. But … still seven races. Things can change a lot. Are you still enjoying racing? Is it still for fun? For fun, and also very important. Most enjoyable is when you feel the bike set up is okay, and you have a good bike and you can play. If for example another one beats you (in qualifying) you go out again to try to beat this. This play, you know. And then win the race. For me, the most enjoyable was 2003 on the 250 Aprilia. Away from racing then – tell me about a good movie you’ve seen recently. I like comedy movies, but the best movie for me is Gladiator. Sometimes I need to see it again, because it motivates me a lot. Before the race I play the soundtrack music to get me ready. You’re always laughing. What especially makes you laugh? For me, it is not difficult to laugh. Very easy. I laugh for everything. I think is important. We (riders) live in difficult world, and laughing can take out the pressure.