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Toni Elias begins his adaptation to the Aprilia 250

Toni Elias begins his adaptation to the Aprilia 250

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the 2001 season was the emergence of a young 18 year-old Spanish talent, whose aggressive and exciting ´full-throttle´ style epitomised the verve, youth and exhilaration witnessed at each and every 125cc race. Toni Elias was eventually unsuccessful in his challenge for the World title, with a heavy highside at Motegi effectively ending his chances of taking the honours. Nevertheless, with third place under his belt, and having broken out from the Telefonica Movistar Junior team and Alberto Puig´s watchful eye, the eighteen year-old has now set his sights on achieving things at a higher level in the sport, as he enters the quarter-litre category with Aprilia.

´This is so different to 125, ´ said Elias as he tested his new factory 250 machine. ´There it was full on the gas all the time, but in 250 you have to look for the corner exits more, the bike weighs a lot more, and of course because of the higher power it´s harder for me to control. But bit by bit I´m getting the hang of it all!´

Elias has become a real icon in Spain, a beacon of light in what had been considered a bleak outlook by the Spanish press. Toni begins this season realising that there is some expectation sitting upon his shoulders now, ´It took a few months to get used to it all [the media attention], but you do get used to it. There was a time this winter when my parents just said enough is enough and practically had to lock me away in the house for a couple of weeks! People now just stop me in my home-town of Manresa and say things like, ´oh, you´re that guy from Grands Prix aren´t you?´ which is a really odd feeling.´

Like many before him, moving up a class will take a certain amount of adaptation, especially with a change of team and manufacturer, but this doesn´t seem to faze Elias, ´I´m happy with how everything is going at the moment. Having changed the category I´m now adapting myself to the new bike, and am even testing some things so that I can make the switch smoother. We just have to keep working hard at this.´

His new team manager Jorge Martinez ´Aspar´ agrees that Elias´ adjustment to the new conditions have been going well, ´At the moment I´m stunned. I´d say better than everything we expected. He obviously needs more time and has to continue training, but both of the times we have been together in Valencia and in Jerez he has been very quick. He´s very comfortable on the bike, and is already making good times, I´m very excited by his progress and delighted with how he has worked so far.´

Hard work is clearly the order of the day for the young Catalan, and again he is well prepared, and his winter training programme should put him in good stead for the season. ´I started training about four weeks ago now, and I´ve still got loads more work to do, right up until the beginning of the Championship. I did some cross-country skiing as well as some cycling around my home, and my training and adaptation for 250 goes on.´

250cc, 2001, Toni Elias

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