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Toni Elias taking it race by race

Toni Elias taking it race by race

Toni Elias taking it race by race

Two seasons ago Toni Elias effectively ruled himself out of the fight for the 125cc World Championship title with Manuel Poggiali when he crashed out at Motegi after four laps. One year later he took his maiden quarter-litre victory there after a thrilling head-to-head with Marco Melandri, and this weekend he must pull off a similarly gutsy performance if he is to recover from a catastrophic last lap fall which handed Poggiali a healthy points cushion at Rio last week. Where maximum points at the Nelson Piquet circuit would have closed the gap to Poggiali to just nine, Elias now lies fourth in the championship, 39 points adrift of the leader. However, he remains positive about the final four races and, after a disruptive season behind the scenes, confident of another title tilt in 2004.

"The truth is that it's been a hard year, lots of unexpected things have happened and we had some problems at the start but things have got better, especially with my new chief mechanic Sandi," says Elias, who has won three races this season. "We have changed everything - I now have everything I need to ride as I want. We're still fighting for the title but I'm not thinking about that, I'm concentrating on race by race things, and just getting the maximum points possible out of them."

Elias recognises that the next three ‘flyaway' races will be crucial in the outcome of the championship, but believes it will still go down to the final round – his home race at Valencia. "I suppose that coming into the last race in Valencia fighting for the title would be nerve-wracking. Firstly, we have to get there in contention! Then if we do it'll be complicated. The good thing about riding at home is that the people support you and that helps me get a little bit more motivation, which of course is good. There are still five riders who can win the title, it'll be tough. There's not much difference in the points, but it's going to be tough, we'll see."

With rumours abound that he is set to sign for Honda in 2004, the 20 year old revealed that nothing has been clarified just yet, apart from his desire to stay in the quarter-litre class. "For next season I have one thing decided already and that's to stay in 250. It's still to early to decide where, but there's lots going on," he concluded.

Tags:
250cc, 2003, Toni Elias

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