Following Gresini Honda's 'rock bottom' weekend at Mugello, Toni Elias will be aiming to kick-start the team's recovery by at least recording his first ever MotoGP finish in his home Grand Prix of Catalunya on Sunday.
Elias missed the race in 2005 due to injury, crashed on lap ten in 2006 and suffered a mechanical failure mid-way through the race in 2007. Last year he was black-flagged for failing to come in for a ride-through penalty for jumping the start.
The #24 has claimed a best finish of ninth on his factory-spec Honda so far this year and is only twelfth in the championship standings heading into round six.
“We come here having found some improvements but without having shown it on track in terms of results,” said Toni. “Hopefully it will be at Montmeló where things change. We have had a few problems and it is hard to fight against them, but we are giving it all we can and we are getting better.”
Elias, like team-mate Alex de Angelis, has suffered rear traction problems since the start of the year and appears to have been one of the worst hit by the single tyre rule.
“We are working on our issues one by one and reducing them gradually and we just need to make sure we aren't affected by bad luck or unexpected problems. Hopefully at Montmeló we will get our first strong result of the year, as we are getting close,” he insisted.
de Angelis is two points and one place behind Elias in the championship.
“I was disappointed with the last race in Italy because we missed out on some vital points but we'll keep working hard in Catalunya, especially in the search for rear grip, which is the problem that is still affecting us the most at the moment,” said de Angelis, who crashed at Mugello last time out and collided with Loris Capirossi in Catalunya last year.
“I remember being really, really fast at this circuit in the wet last year but it seems our problems this year are the same in the wet and dry conditions, so it is something we desperately need to iron out if we want to move forward and be more consistent.
“I like Barcelona as a circuit and I was having a good race last year until I crashed out with Capirossi. We were challenging at the right end of the field on that occasion so we go there with optimism, confidence and feeling calm."
San Carlo Honda Gresini will start the weekend seventh out of eleven in the 2009 teams' championship.
“I was very unhappy after the last race at Mugello but like I said at the time I felt we hit rock bottom there so it is onwards and upwards from here,” declared team principal Fausto Gresini.