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James Toseland says goodbye to MotoGP
8 November 2009
James Toseland concluded a two-year career in MotoGP with a twelfth place finish in Sunday's Valencia season finale.
The Englishman looked set to be a future star when he qualified second and finished sixth in his very first grand prix (in any class) at Qatar 2008 - but it was a performance he would never improve upon.
Toseland finished his debut season for Tech 3 Yamaha with six sixth-places and eleventh in the championship, but the changes that were expected to make his second season more successful - a new crew chief and the Bridgestone-only tyre rule - ultimately worked against him.
The #52 rarely got the best from his machinery and finished 2009 with three more sixth places and 14th in the world championship, having scored 92 points over 17 rounds compared with 105 over 18 rounds last season.
With the three other full-time YZR-M1 riders all in the end-of-championship top five, and his 2010 replacement Ben Spies seventh on his Yamaha MotoGP debut, even Toseland's most ardent supporters were forced to accept that his position in the team had become untenable.
Toseland will return to World Superbike with Yamaha in 2010, to try and become the first rider to win three titles on three different brands of motorcycle, having previously been crowned WSBK champion for Ducati and Honda.
“I really enjoyed my last race. I wanted to give my team everything I had and I'm proud to say I did that,” said Toseland, who was one place behind Spies for the first half of the race.
“I had a good first few laps and took a few risks with not a lot of temperature in the tyres and got myself into a good position. But unfortunately on about lap 15 [of 30] the rear tyre turned on the rim and I wasn't able to keep the pace and stay in the bunch that were battling for seventh place.
“I'd like to congratulate Colin for fifth in the championship because he has done a brilliant job. I'd like to thank everybody working with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team for all the effort and support they have given me. I've had an absolutely fantastic time with them and I'll take a lot of interest in how they perform in the future.
“I've made a lot of friends in MotoGP and at Tech 3 and the team will always hold a special place in my heart. Now I've got to look to the future and I do so relishing a new challenge with Yamaha,” he concluded.
“I want to pass on my heartfelt thanks to James for all his hard work since he joined us at the end of 2007,” said team manager Herve Poncharal. “We've had some up and downs but he brought a lot to the team. He is a true gentleman and he has been one of the hardest working and highly motivated riders ever to be at Tech 3. He has plenty to proud of in MotoGP. He is staying in the Yamaha family and I would like to wish him all the best in 2010. I'm sure he will keep Yamaha on top in World Superbikes.”
Toseland's crew chief swap infuriated team-mate Colin Edwards, but the Texan joined Poncharal in offering his best wishes.
“I wish James all the best for the future too and am convinced he can carry on Yamaha's success in World Superbikes,” said Edwards.
There will be no British rider in MotoGP next season.
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