James Toseland has warned that if somebody wants his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 ride for the 2010 MotoGP season, they will have to 'prise his fingers off the handlebars' to get it.

That statement came at the end of a joint interview with Crash.net and the BBC, held at the British Library on Wednesday, when Toseland sat down for a three-way chat about his challenging season to date, ahead of his home Donington Park round.

Toseland traces his troubles back to the very first day of 2009 track action, during testing at Sepang in Malaysia, when he suffered a huge highside after going 'too fast too soon' during his debut on the hardest compound Bridgestone tyre.

Having safely negotiated the following Qatar test, Toseland then suffered another heavy fall at the final pre-season test in Jerez, leaving him well behind where he needed to be at the start of the racing season.

"I was very lucky to get away without broken bones in both of those falls," said the Englishman. "I damaged my arm quite badly, I don't know whether it was muscular or tendon problems but I lost a lot of strength in my arm.

"When the bike hit me in Sepang my arm went completely dead. I was quite worried about it because I had no feeling in it whatsoever. It took a couple of months to get full strength again. Now everything is back to normal and I'm fully fit.

"Because of my injuries and lack of testing time this year, we were starting on the back foot," he explained. "With the [Bridgestone] tyres the set-up of the bike is dramatically different to last year, when we were running on Michelins.

"Missing that testing time [due to the injuries] means I've been testing at the races. That's where the inconsistency has come from, because we were always changing and trying things. You can't really do that. In MotoGP you've got to be on it from Friday and then all the way through the weekend.

"You can't give these guys a running start, which I did unfortunately. We're been clawing our way back, had the sixth at Assen [round seven], and the potential is there to have those kind of results," added the double World Superbike champion.

That sixth equals Toseland's best finish of his rookie season. But, after nine of 17 rounds, he has only amassed 45 points, which is 15 points less than he had scored after nine rounds last season.

Given his pre-season difficulties that is perhaps not a surprise, but what might surprise some is that team-mate Colin Edwards - the top satellite rider with fifth in the world championship standings - has also scored 15 points less than at the same time last year.

Indeed, whilst the factory Fiat Yamaha team enjoys a perfect one-two in the world championship standings, courtesy of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, Edwards has been unable to repeat last season's podiums for the satellite team.

That might lead some to suggest that the technical gap between the factory and satellite spec M1 has grown this year, but that is not something Toseland worries about.

"I don't know 100 per cent what the difference is [between the factory and satellite Yamahas]," he said. "You never really find out. We got some electronics in Germany that helped a lot. When you see things like that you realise that they [the factory team] do have more advanced technology. But the package is competitive.

"The package I've got is the package I've got," he declared. "I never think of what it would be like if I had what somebody else has got. I'm just concentrating on doing the best I can with what I've got. I know what it is capable of and I need to do that. I need to show the bike's potential as a rider to keep my job basically."

And if Yamaha are concentrating on their title contenders, it's a price Toseland appears willing to pay to have Rossi, the reigning six time MotoGP world champion, on the same bike.

"We get all the experience and feedback of Valentino, who has ridden the bike since 2004," he said. "With Valentino being on a Yamaha, Yamaha has got to produce a fantastic bike, because no one is ever going to point the finger at Valentino. If Valentino doesn't win it's the Yamaha that is the problem. So Yamaha are under a lot of pressure with that.

"That was the thing that really made me decide to join Yamaha. It is a great bike, great package - yes the satellite team doesn't have the same spec as Fiat Yamaha - but it's certainly not a bad package at all and it's capable of finishing around fifth place," he stated.

"I can talk to Rossi myself if I need to know anything. Everybody is good friends in the Yamaha group. There are no secrets and everybody is willing to help."

Two people who didn't seem like friends at the start of the year were Toseland and Edwards, after a winter crew-chief swap infuriated the Texan.

Toseland believes the problems between them have now largely blown over, and a joke earlier in the day certainly wasn't aimed at Edwards (now in his seventh MotoGP season).

"You've got to forget what you did in Superbike. Superbike was Superbike. I did seven years there and I learnt my trade there. I got good at it. I think if anybody did something for seven years they could get good at it!" he had said.

But does Toseland feel he's been given the chance to show what he can do in MotoGP?

"Until I'm given the best of the best of what the manufacturer can produce it's difficult to show," he replied. "But when I'm less than one second off Valentino you know your riding well, on the package that you are on. I can only base myself on Colin, Colin was ninth and I was tenth in Germany so obviously we were pushing the package to the limit, in those positions."

Attention then turned to next season and, with Rossi the only Yamaha MotoGP rider currently signed for 2010, speculation is rife about the futures of Lorenzo, Toseland and Edwards.

"Everybody is waiting for Jorge to make a decision and everyone else is sweating!" said James. "Because if Jorge goes to Honda than Dani [Pedrosa] might move to Yamaha. You never know what might happen until the top riders are sorted."

For Toseland, at this point in time, there is only one goal for 2010: "MotoGP with Tech 3."

And then the warning to any riders with ambitions of taking his seat, which came after the possibility of Ben Spies moving to Tech 3 was raised:

"If somebody wants my ride they are going to have to prise my fingers off the handlebars" were Toseland's exact words.

Toseland hopes to go some way towards securing a third season at Herve Poncharal's team with a strong ride this weekend, during what will be the final MotoGP event at Donington Park before a switch to Silverstone.

"It's not just about the British round for me. It's my career as well," he admitted. "I think this country deserves a MotoGP rider. I'm the only one at the moment. I believe I can be competitive still, so this round will be very important regarding my future."

The stakes may be high, but Toseland hasn't lost his sense of humour.

"It's not going to take much to beat last year's performance. If I see turn two I'll have done that!" he said earlier in the day.

Toseland crashed at the very first turn of the 2008 race, before riding to a lonely 17th and last.

To coincide with the British Grand Prix, a limited edition oil painting of Toseland by award-winning artist Glenn Badham will go on sale at selected UK art galleries on Friday (July 24). See www.oillicensing.co.uk for details


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