Fans favourite and all round nice guy Toni Elias spoke exclusively to Motoscene during the Motegi race weekend. The small Spaniard has gone the long way round, but is finally back in MotoGP with Forward Racing at least until the end of the season. We caught up with Toni and asked him what he’s been up to whilst away from the premier class.
We didn’t feel the need to touch on the dramatic race back in 2006 with Valentino Rossi, but it is worthy of a mention for his sheer perseverance and undoubted ability on a motorcycle and let’s not forgot Elias is a former 250cc World Champion.
1. First of all how did you end up back in MotoGP with Forward Racing?
After Misano, Giovanni Cuzari asked me to come back in MotoGP to take the place of Claudio Corti in Aragon. Then – after the Aragon race – he confirmed me until the end of the season. I’m really happy to be here and I just want to say thank you to him for his support.
2. What are your thoughts from your first race back in MotoGP at Aragon?
It is not easy to setup a new bike. We are at the end of the season and all the guys are on their bike since the Sepang test. My riding style is completely different from Stefan/Claudio styles. In my opinion the Yamaha Forward is a really fast bike. I have to adjust the front because the feeling is not 100% good, but it is a really fast bike. The electronics are good, but you know I need time to find the right feeling.
3. What have you been up to whilst away from motorcycle racing this season?
I have a lot of projects in Spain – in Manresa my birth city I have a school for helping young Spanish talent to compete in the Championship. I have a lot of jobs to do! But motorcycle competitions are my passion and also the passion of my family.
4. Obviously you need time to adjust to the bike, so what are you looking at immediately to help you settle on it quickly?
At the moment I’m working on a different setting. I’m struggling a little bit with the front. At the moment my goal is to find the right set up on the front to be able to push as I want.
5. Obviously we are so close to the end of the season, what are your plans for 2016, is an offer on the table from Forward?
On one side is a really easy question. It will be really great news if I find a place in MotoGP for next year, but at the moment I have not received any offer from Forward. In any case I have my projects in Spain with my young talents.
6. Finally you’ve battled with the best throughout your career in racing especially MotoGP, just how high is the level in today’s MotoGP compared to your previous stints in the series?
Comparing to the previous years and to the other categories of the motorcycle world I can say that MotoGP level is the highest. All the riders – official or not official teams – are here to fight. In the open class category the battle is really hard. All the guys have competitive bikes and each Sunday are here to win .