Toni Elias made history at Sepang on Sunday when he was crowned the first-ever Moto2 World Champion.

The experienced Spaniard finished fourth in a typically thrilling race to secure the title with three rounds remaining. Although Elias has been a front-running grand prix rider for a decade, this is his first world crown.

The 27-year-old has enjoyed a spectacular season, winning seven of the 14 races so far and scoring points in every event. Such consistency would be impressive in any race series, but in the new Moto2 category it is especially admirable.

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Moto2 is the first motorcycling World Championship to feature a control engine - Honda supplies identically-tuned CBR600 engines to all riders - in order to keep costs down and to give all riders a more equal chance of success. The series also features control tyres (Dunlop), ECU and slipper clutch.

The result of this equality - as well as 40-rider grids - is dramatically close racing, which requires inch-perfect performances from riders if they are to run up front consistently.

Although Elias has managed that feat with an impressive run of eight podium appearances, the racing in Moto2 is so topsy-turvy that even he has had some tough weekends this year, like the British GP, where he finished tenth, and the Italian and Catalan GPs where he finished fifth.

"When I crossed the line and saw all the guys on the edge of the track with the World Champion flag I got emotional and started to cry because my dream had become a reality. Then I thought of something my uncle told me before he died four years ago: 'I will be watching you from the sky when you cross the line on the day you become World Champion.'

"Finally we reached our target. To win this championship we had to lose two - a 125 (in 2001) and a 250 (in 2003). All that experience made me stronger and gave me what I needed to win this championship. It has been many years of fighting and then this year a lot of work with my team and with Moriwaki.

"This title is for my parents, my sister, all my friends and everyone who has worked with me during my career. It is also for the people who are not here, like my uncle, and for Tomizawa.

"My dream has come true, now we will continue fighting for another championship, maybe here or maybe in MotoGP. I have learned many things in Moto2, so whatever I do next I will be stronger. I feel like a weight has come off my shoulders.

"When I came to Moto2 I thought it would be an easy class, but that all changed at the first corner of the first race in Qatar, when I quickly understood it would be very difficult. We have worked so hard, also in qualifying, and we have fought with many different rivals. It has been closer than we expected.

"The most important race for me was Germany, where we made a big change to the chassis set-up. In one go we made two big steps forward, and from then on I knew we could be competitive and consistent. But we also won the championship with some difficult races, like Silverstone where I qualified 18th but still managed to finish in the top ten."

Toni's title is the first for Team Gresini since the late Daijiro Kato won the 250cdc crown in 2001 - also at Sepang.

"For me this is a memorable and fantastic day. It hasn't been an easy weekend because there is always a lot of tension when the decisive moment finally arrives but in the end we have realised a dream with a brilliant Toni Elias," said team manager Fausto Gresini.

"We have lifted the title here in Malaysia just as we did nine years ago with Daijiro Kato and that is a wonderful thing. We have won it again with Fabrizio Cecchini and all the guys who worked together with Daijiro so it's hard to think of anything better.

"It is important to us to have won the Moto2 title because it is a concept we believed in from the start. Toni had the belief in our team and the potential of Moriwaki, we put it all together and we have won the title with races to spare, which I didn't honestly expect."

Elias joined Moto2 from MotoGP, which he contested for five years from 2005, winning one race (in 2006) and scoring a further five podiums.

He took the traditional route to the premier class, commencing his full-time GP career in 1999 in the 125 class, then graduating to 250s in 2002. He won two 125 GPs and seven 250 GPs.

A popular member of the paddock, as much liked for his cheerful character as for his radical hang-off riding style, Elias comes from a racing family.

His father a top Spanish motocross rider and owner of a motorcycle shop in the family's home town of Manresa.

Elias won his first minimoto title aged nine and then won success in local and national scooter racing classes before moving onto 125 race bikes in 1998.

Amazingly, he scored his first world points that same year, as a wild-card entry at the Valencia Grand Prix.

Elias' race wins in Moto2 give him membership of a very select club. He is one of only seven riders in more than six decades of the motorcycling World Championships to have achieved victories in four different classes.

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Racing Corporation vice-president commented: "Elias has done a very good job, so everyone at Honda would like to congratulate him on becoming the first Moto2 World Champion.

"Moto2 has been a great success - the racing is really competitive and fantastic to watch - so Honda is very to help this new kind of Grand Prix category by supplying CBR600 engines.

"The engines have proved strong and very reliable, which is a good point for us. It is very tough for riders to be up front all the time in Moto2, which proves that Elias has stayed very concentrated and is always thinking about how to win."

Moto2 replaced the 250cc World Championship.