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Elias returns to scene of maiden MotoGP victory

Elias returns to scene of maiden MotoGP victory

Walking wounded Gresini Honda rider Toni Elias returns to the scene of happier times this weekend, when he rides in Portugal for the first time since his debut MotoGP victory last season.

Walking wounded Gresini Honda rider Toni Elias returns to the scene of happier times this weekend, when he rides in Portugal for the first time since his debut MotoGP victory last season. The Spaniard was the protagonist of one of the most exciting races of the 2006 season, and pipped Valentino Rossi and Kenny Roberts Jr to the chequered flag by the narrowest of margins. Still recovering from a leg injury suffered at Assen, Elias has been working hard to improve his condition and has been walking unaided for the past few weeks.

´I´m happy to be heading back to a circuit that holds so many fond memories for me. The win last season in MotoGP was probably the best of my career, but now I am just looking ahead and trying to do well this Sunday, explains the Gresini Honda man.

I´m just trying to improve my performance race by race - I got eleventh at Brno after three races out and seventh at Misano. They are not the results I want but at the moment I am restricted by my physical condition. I like the circuit, especially the uphill chicane, which characterises the kind of corner you get at this circuit - slow but technical esses, probably the slowest in the world. The straight is long, almost a kilometre, and is very fast, followed by hard braking. The final bend is quite fast and crucial to a good lap time.´

Team-mate Marco Melandri has also been in the wars as of late, although this has coincided with a strong run of results in recent races. The Italian finished fourth on his comeback at Misano, and heads to Estoril well-rested and in a determined mood.

´I´m highly motivated. The bike and the tyres are at a high level and now we just need the result to go with it. I´m keen to get back on the podium, like I did at Laguna, because it would be a nice way to pay back my team, who have worked so hard and given me so much,´ says Melandri, who has suffered a catalogue of injuries in his Grand Prix career.

´It will be a big challenge for us in Portugal - Estoril is a difficult circuit with so many first-gear corners and two long straights, one in fifth gear, one in sixth, where we might struggle a bit. The characteristics of our bike are better suited to a more flowing circuit but I´m ready for this race and the final rush that will take us to Japan, Australia and Malaysia before returning to Europe for the last round at Valencia.´

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, bwin.com GRANDE PREMIO DE PORTUGAL, Toni Elias

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