Motegi MotoGP reaction: Toni Elias ends injury nightmare with third
Toni Elias ended a torturous second half of the season when he claimed third place in this afternoon’s Japanese MotoGP.
The Spaniard has been struggling for full fitness ever since he suffered a horrendous left femur break during practice for the Dutch MotoGP in Assent at the end of June.
He missed three races and since his return he’s way short of 100 per cent fitness, but he put his injury misery behind him in style in today’s dramatic 24-lap Motegi clash.
The Spaniard fended off a fierce challenge from Tech 3 Dunlop Yamaha rider Sylvain Guintoli in the final few laps to secure just his second podium of the season.
Elias needed to produce the fastest lap of the race on lap to hold off Sylvain Guintoli, who had briefly held third over the Grissini Honda rider on lap 22.
Toni Elias though was able to up his pace and secured his first podium since finishing second in the Turkish MotoGP.
He said: “I’m really happy because the last two months have been really hard for me, but finally I have a present. It was a difficult race.
“After the warm-up I decided to change something on the set-up for wet conditions. But it was a big, big mistake. I started really good, but I lost positions quickly. I didn’t have anything to lose so I decide to come into the pits to change the bike. It was the right decision.”
Asked about his titanic late scrap with Sylvain Guintoli in which he needed to set the fastest lap of the race to fend of the Frenchman, he added: “I didn’t know Guintoli was behind me. But I saw Guintoli 0.1 on my pit board.
“I just looked back and Guintoli was right there trying to pass me in every corner. Finally I continued in third position. This is perfect for today because the race was really difficult.”