Is the 2009 MotoGP season destined to be Toni Elias' last?
Well he certainly won't be on the grid in 2010 for the first time since 2004 after being ousted from his ride at San Carlo Gresini Honda, despite finishing as the second highest satellite rider in seventh position overall.
In fact, Elias' 2009 season was his best on record in terms of his overall finish, even if his sole podium at Brno was less than he last managed at Gresini Racing back in 2007 and at Pramac Racing the season before.
Consistency was Elias' strength by the season's close, the Spaniard putting an indifferent start to the year behind him to finish inside the top ten in nine of the final ten races. Enabling him to climb his way up the order to eventually prevail in a seven-way tussle for seventh in the standings, it wasn't enough to help Elias from landing another ride after Gresini showed its 2010 hand early on.
Part of this may have been down to Elias not making the most of his Honda RC212V, which was of a higher specification than that of team-mate Alex de Angelis, who finished just four points behind in eighth overall.
Still, with Gresini not willing to pass up the opportunity of snaring Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli for 2010, Elias has been forced to make way.
Nonetheless, he will remain in the grand prix paddock in 2010 after confirming he has landed a ride in the new Moto2 series. An enforced relegation it might be, but a good performance there – coupled to what remains a respectable record at MotoGP level – could well see him back in the top flight sooner rather than later.
San Carlo Honda Gresini
Top 10 MotoGP Rider of the Year 2008:
Top 10 MotoGP Rider of the Year 2009:
- Loris Capirossi
- Nicky Hayden