The last time Toni Elias or Honda Gresini won a MotoGP race was at Estoril in 2006, when the Spaniard snatched his first and so far only victory by 0.002sec from Valentino Rossi at the end of one of the most dramatic races in MotoGP history.
That victory also marked the last time that any satellite rider has won a premier-class grand prix and Elias returns to Estoril for the 2009 event with only one podium to his credit this season.
Elias (like team-mate Alex de Angelis) already knows he will be replaced at the end of the year, providing extra incentive for the 'optimistic' Spaniard - who has enjoyed a varied autumn break since Misano.
“I've spent this long break in training, having fun cycling in Zarauz in the Basque Country and surfing along the wonderful 20km-long beach at San Sebastian,” said Elias.
“I also went to watch the Andorra Supermoto Grand Prix and spent a day with Mikko Hirvonen, the current World Rally Champion, riding with him in his WRC car, which was incredibly exciting.
“Naturally I was constantly thinking about getting back to competitive action myself and the next race at Estoril, where I won in 2006.
“It's a circuit I love and where I hope to be amongst the frontrunners again. I'm in good form and my feeling with the bike is great so I can't be anything but optimistic about this one,” he declared.
“Estoril is the scene of our most recent MotoGP victory so it is obviously a track we hold close to our hearts,” reflected team manager Fausto Gresini. “Toni Elias' victory over Valentino Rossi is a wonderful memory and I'm sure he can be a frontrunner again in this race. He is in good form and extremely determined to show his ability.”