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Toni Elías fit and buoyant before the start of the 2003 World Championship

Toni Elías fit and buoyant before the start of the 2003 World Championship

Toni Elías fit and buoyant before the start of the 2003 World Championship

Toni Elías has big expectations as he prepares to start his second season in the 250cc category. The quietly spoken rider, who last week celebrated his 20th birthday, has strongly asserted that his objective is to obtain better results than his impressive debut campaign in 2002. The young man from Manresa, Catalunya knows he is in the select group of favourites for success and his words, a few days away from the beginning of the 2003 World Championships, reveals his lofty mental condition to battle in the series that the rider holds illusion of grandeur.

`I am happy enough and ready to go´, affirmed Elías. `I think that the bike I have now, that we have worked so much with over the winter, is superior to last year´s model. When we received the new chassis in January we encountered quite a few problems, but slowly we have stared to set-up and improve the motorcycle. In the middle of the tests we continued the evolution and stumbled upon the right formula. I think I am at the correct level and stage to begin the season. I don't want to talk of predictions, but all is in place to make us start the Championship with the best conditions for success´.

The Catalan rider dismisses the importance of the preseason test results. For Elias the moment of truth starts now: `During the preseason there were many riders pushing hard and fast and I am sure they will not be that quick when the racing begins. De Puniet, at this moment, is the reference and we have to look how he responds in Suzuka. He had a great pre-season and adapted to the bike very well. He is really ´up´ for the Championship and I am sure he will be at the front in the first few races´, he remarked. `Anyway the Grand Prixs are another story. With some very different circuits, diverse and unpredictable conditions, other riders in the track and many more factors like the start and the weather. On the other hand I am one of those riders who thrives on these race situations.´

The rider of the Repsol-Telefónica Movistar is cautious about the possibilities of fighting for the title but does not hide his desire to be in amongst the tussle for the crown of the quarter litre category: `Last year I won a single race and my goal is to improve on those results of 2002 with far better ones. Obviously I would like to be in the leading group for the Championship, because that would mean that I have advanced in my progression and that I do all the right things well. But I do not want to think in this scenario yet. I am a rider who will fight, work and try for the best results possible. I only ask for a bit of calm and let me get on the with the job´.
Elias believes that this Championship will be more open than in previous years: `Fonsi, De Puniet and Poggiali will be racing for victory. I also have a lot of respect for Rolfo and Porto, the two riders with Honda. While I know the Aprilia riders well now, their potential is still an unknown quantity, but for sure they are very fast and have a lot of experience. In my opinion I do not think it will be like last year when you only had Fonsi and Melandri vying for the title, this season the contest will be more varied and open and will present some interesting fights on the track´.
Concerning the opening GP: `Suzuka is one of the tracks that I prefer but it is very complicated. It is difficult for everyone, with a combination of corners fast, slow, hard braking and cambered. It is very long and requires a good set-up´.

250cc, 2003

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