Dutch MotoGP: James Toseland tapped up for vacant Elias Honda MotoGP ride

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James Toseland has been contacted about taking injured MotoGP rider Toni Elias’s Gresini Honda RC212V ride in the 2007 MotoGP world championship.

MCN has learned that Gresini spoke to Toseland’s manager Roger Burnett today from the Assen paddock after the Italian learned that his Spanish rider is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines following a crash in this morning’s first free practice session in Holland.

Elias broke his left femur in the accident at the Ramshoek corner and is expected to be out of action for a minimum of three months, with some reports suggesting the severity of the injury effectively ruling Elias out of a track return in 2007. He underwent surgery in an Assen hospital this afternoon.

Toseland’s manager Roger Burnett has confirmed to MCN that Gresini telephoned him to enquire about Toseland’s availability and interest in replacing Elias, even though he is locked in a fight to try and win the World Superbike championship.

Toseland’s World Superbike commitments mean he wouldn’t be free to ride in the American GP in Laguna Seca on July 22, as it clashes with the Brno WSB round in the Czech Republic. The remaining four World Superbike races after Brno though don’t clash with MotoGP race weekends, and neither does the next MotoGP race in Germany on July 15.

The same title sponsor as Ten Kate in Hannspree backs Gresini’s team, so there is no potential sponsorship clash.

Toseland is currently the subject of intense speculation about his future, with a number of MotoGP teams tracking him for a ride next season, including Gresini’s Honda squad.

It is understood that Ten Kate and Honda will veto a swoop for Toseland with fears a MotoGP deal will prove too much of a distraction from his battle to win a second World Superbike crown.

Burnett told MCN: “Fausto called me to speak about James. I think everybody respects the fact that James has a got a world championship to try and win. What I didn’t know or they didn’t know is the longevity of the injury to Elias but obviously I need to speak to Ronald (Ten Kate) and a lot of other people. There are a lot of people to consider but one thing for sure is we are not going to take our eye off the ball with this World Superbike championship and that’s priority.”

Another possibly candidate is another rider in Burnett’s stable in former World and British superbike champion Neil Hodgson.

Hodgson is currently away testing a Honda FireBlade in America for an AMA superbike appearance at Laguna Seca on the same weekend as the MotoGP clash.
Hogdson has experience of Bridgestone tyres having tested for Ducati this season. He is also a free agent having finished his testing deal with Ducati and Bridgestone with the return of injured Japanese rider Shinichi Itoh to development duties.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt