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.
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.