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Toni Elías: The long road back to victory

Toni Elías: The long road back to victory

Toni Elías: The long road back to victory

Toni Elías returned to the top step of the podium at the Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal on Sunday after an absence of almost a year. The Spaniard hadn't won a race since the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang in October 2003, when still riding for Aprilia.

Elías' first season with Honda has been fraught with technical difficulties as he has struggled to adapt to the RS 250RW in 2004 and the youngster made no attempt to hide his delight at the result.

"I am really happy, I've been looking for this victory for a long time and at last I've got it," said Elías. "I ended the session well on Saturday but a clutch problem meant I couldn't go any faster. We sorted it out in the warm-up and I even managed to improve my time from qualifying, even though the track was colder."

Elías' victory came after a stunning battle with Sebastián Porto, the Argentinean making an early break but chased lap for lap by the Spaniard. Elías regularly smashed the circuit record as he swapped places with Porto at the front but it was an incredible final lap which eventually saw him escape - his time of 1'41.595 beating Manuel Poggiali's previous circuit record by 0.620 seconds. It was a lap which would have put him in second place on the qualifying grid.

"I saw from the start of the race that Porto was strong and wanted to get away so I did everything I could to chase him," explained Elías. "I stuck in his slipstream and planned my strategy for the end of the race."

After three podium finishes this season, Elías admits his first victory of the season and his seventh in the class was long overdue but hopes it can spark a successful end to the current season.

"I've been waiting for this win for a long time and I hope that the dip we have had is confined to history now and that this is not the last win of the season. I have to say thanks to Honda, to my team, sponsors and family, who have always supported me and never lost faith."


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