James Toseland has opened up about the end of his career with Yamaha last year, confessing that not being considered to replace MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi after the Italian broke his leg at Mugello in June was 'a turning-point' in his relationship with the manufacturer.
Toseland made his premier class debut with Yamaha in 2008 for the satellite Tech 3 operation, but after failing to break into the top ten in the points standings either that season or the next and reportedly not gelling with team-mate and Yamaha stalwart Colin Edwards, the Yorkshireman was replaced by Ben Spies for 2010 and returned to the World Superbike Championship.
However, following Rossi's accident several months later, it was his Sterilgarda Yamaha WSBK team-mate Cal Crutchlow and not Toseland who was offered the chance to step up to MotoGP in-place of Spies, who in-turn would have made an early graduation to the factory outfit. The 30-year-old concedes that from that point on, there was no way back.
“It was a turning-point,” he told Crash.net
in an exclusive interview. “I felt like there was half an opportunity to actually be able to do that (return to MotoGP). Cal was supposedly offered it and turned it down, but they didn't give me even the opportunity to turn it down.
“I realised at that point that probably moving forward with Yamaha would be restricted. I'd had a bad season in 2009 and injuries made it a bad season in 2010, so I didn't necessarily on paper deserve the opportunity – personally I knew why the results were like they were, but not everybody sees it that way. I had three great years with Yamaha and struck up a great relationship with them, but for one reason or another it didn't quite work out.”
Indeed, last year was an injury-afflicted campaign for Toseland, with a fracture to his left hand during qualifying for the Phillip Island curtain-raiser compromising his challenge from thereon in, and for a double WSBK Champion, just four podium finishes and a lowly ninth spot in the final riders' standings was a poor return. Worse still, the last four races yielded four consecutive DNFs – but there were, insists 'JT', mitigating circumstances.
“Of course I was disappointed, but it just got to the stage where I wasn't fully-fit,” he reflected. “It was just the longevity of the problem. I broke my hand quite badly in the first round; it needed operating on, really, but that would have put me out for the season, so it was 'Catch 22'. I decided not to have it operated on and just battle through it, with injections in my hand during the year. That obviously wasn't ideal, and at that level it will cost you.
“I was frustrated with the situation and qualified badly for the last two races, and I tried to go from 15th to the front where I thought I and the bike should be – but that meant I pushed a little bit too much and ended up crashing. It wasn't the way I wanted to finish, but sometimes you've got to put things behind you, be honest with yourself and just assess everything. I picked myself back up and now I've got a new challenge.”