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Toni Elías approaching next stage of pre-season with excitement and caution

Toni Elías approaching next stage of pre-season with excitement and caution

Toni Elías approaching next stage of pre-season with excitement and caution

Toni Elias yesterday lapped the Montmelo circuit in Catalunya aboard his 250cc Aprilia for the first time, and he took time out to talk to about his pre-season so far, and the forthcoming round of IRTA tests in Barcelona.

'It's been a pre-season of adaptation really', states the Telefonica Movistar Repsol YPF team rider. 'In Jerez last December, where I first rode the Aprilia, I could immediately see the differences between a 125cc and 250cc bike. I also saw how easily and how quickly you can fall from a bike like this. It was my first real fall, and it made me aware of the limits.'

Since then, in the two rounds of IRTA tests that have taken place, (in Valencia and Estoril), Elias has finished 10th and 7th respectively. But at the moment the Spaniard isn't too worried about times, and he has encountered some setbacks in his adaptation to the 250 machine. 'At the IRTA test in Valencia I had three heavy falls. I damaged my wrists quite badly, and they still hurt a bit now. I've got the bruises to prove it! In Estoril I didn't clock any exceptional times, but I continued my work on the bike. Right from the beginning I could see it was very rigid and I had some problems with the front wheel especially. We've attempted to sort this out, and tried a lot of different angles and positions. After Estoril we decided to change the chassis and that seemed to do the trick,' Elias explained.

Yesterday I could really feel the difference on the front wheel, the new chassis is much better, it makes cornering easier, it's more responsive… and it gives you a bit more warning. I don't want to put my earlier falls just down to the bike though. I'm learning in this class, and falls are part of the learning experience. I'm very pleased with how yesterday went, but it was only the first day. We've got to continue working on the set-up, as the bike can still get better, and so can I.'.

Cautious as ever, the Catalan rider was quick to add it was too soon to talk about any specific targets for the season, 'At the moment my only objective is to finish the first three races where hopefully I will learn a lot. After that, with patience, I hope to keep improving as the season progresses.'

250cc, 2002

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