Toni Elias aware of increased expectation in 2009

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Toni Elias has admitted he will be under intense pressure to deliver drastically improved results in 2009 after his factory Honda deal was finally confirmed last weekend in Phillip Island.

Elias shunned Ducati and Kawasaki advances to re-join Fausto Gresini’s satellite Honda squad after the Spaniard was given cast iron assurances that he would have a factory RC212V machine for next season.

Likely to be close rather identical to the official factory bikes that Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso will campaign in ’09, nevertheless Elias will still be expected to perform.

Elias, who last rode for Italian Gresini in 2007, said: “I am very happy because the confirmation of the factory bike for me shows that Gresini and Honda trust in me and they have given me a great opportunity.

“It is something completely new for me to have a factory bike, because normally with Honda the bike you start the season on, you finish the season on. Now I have this bike I know that everybody will be expecting a lot more from me. The first person expecting more from me is me, because I’m aware I’ll need to show I can be consistently close to the front.

Elias will partner Alex de Angelis next season, while the Alice Ducati team he will leave is expected to announce Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa as its line-up at the Malaysian GP in Sepang later this month.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt