Toni Elías refreshes his World Championship aspirations
`I still can´t believe it´, repeated Toni Elías after finishing a hectic weekend with his memorable victory in Jerez. His incredulity is not without good reason after an incredible race in which he was one of the main protagonists, but also in overcoming many adverse circumstances during the weekend.
The rider of the Repsol Telefónica Movistar team was carrying painful signs on the Thursday before Jerez of the operation he underwent only ten days previously in Barcelona. His crash during practice in South Africa resulted in a double fracture of the thumb which prevented him from riding nowhere like normal in the race at Welkom.
With the aid of a special hand brace Elias made the brave decision that he would not miss his home GP.
-`It´s an important race in every respect and I want to try and take as many points as possible´, he claimed the day after surgery, planning to compensate for his physical condition with he renowned determination.
Under the Spanish he posted a time to place on the provisional front row but crashed towards the end of the first day. On Saturday, while De Puniet and Poggiali jostled for pole (eventually won by the Frenchman) Elías was unable to improve his times and was relegated to sixth position on the grid: `Today I had an injection but the truth is that it didn't affect me that much. I had to push with my bad finger and now the pain is stronger. I have a good set-up on the bike and this is more important than worrying about the pain, I am looking forward to doing well. I will give everything I have´.
And so he did. But not without difficulties - `I could not maintain the rhythm of the leading group because I had some problems with the front end of the bike. I decided that I had to be more calm, and waited a little for the fuel load to lower in the tank.´ With a combination of bravery and confidence a spectacular end of the race ensued: ` I started to ride sliding the rear wheel and cutting second by second the gap to the leading group. I saw that I could possibly get a podium and when I started mixing with them, I gave everything and was able to fight for the victory. I wanted to take out the thorn from my side, for two years the victory in Barcelona and Valencia has escaped me. Today finally I could win my home GP before all of the Spanish public.´
As well as making the passionate Spanish crowd ride to their feet and shout in unison, Elías has completed his objective for the weekend: He leaves with the maximum number of points and also improving his lowly status in the Championship, after not scoring in Suzuka and then taking only an eighth in Welkom. He has now risen to fifth position in the standings, 30 points behind Poggiali, but having recovered the status of being one of the strongest riders in the competition and still aspiring for the title, which he dearly longs to capture.