Alice's Toni Elias became the first rider other than Casey Stoner to take the Ducati Desmosedici GP8 to a podium finish after a stunning charge in Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix.

Having taken a previous best finish of seventh this season, Elias qualified just 13th on the Brno grid, but provided a clue to his starring race role by setting the fifth fastest warm-up time - although he was still only eleventh by the end of the opening lap.

But the spectacular Spaniard, whose MotoGP future has been in doubt, scythed to sixth position in six laps, found himself fifth when Casey Stoner fell from the lead - then overtook John Hopkins, Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi in a single lap to claim second place by the halfway stage of the 22 laps.

Valentino Rossi was already long gone, but Elias - who beat Rossi at the line to take his only MotoGP victory to date at the 2006 Portuguese Grand Prix - continued to pull clear of the third-place battle, eventually crossing the line six seconds in front of Capirossi.

"I am very happy with my performance," smiled Toni. "Since Germany we have improved a lot, also thanks to the new technical material received by Ducati. I also thought I could have done a podium in Laguna Seca but I committed a mistake and I couldn't make it. Today everything went in the right direction. I am sure that we can maintain the same level for the rest of the season."

Elias then sought to stamp out rumours of a switch to World Superbikes and stated his intention to remain with Ducati's satellite squad for 2009.

"I heard rumours that [some teams] wanted me in Superbike next season: I never spoke to anybody in Superbike and I want to remain in MotoGP for many more years," he declared. "I am happy to work in the Alice Team and with the Pramac Racing structure. If things will go well in this final part of the season I don't see why I should change team."

Elias' podium is the first ever for the 'Alice Team', which recently split from former owner Luis d'Antin, and is the best ever finish by a satellite Ducati rider - beating a third place by former d'Antin riders Alex Barros (2007) and Ruben Xaus (2004).

"A great day for us," said Alice technical director Fabiano Sterlacchini. "Friday we understood that we could have fought with the fastest riders on this track and Toni has been superlative today. In the warm up we have found a great compromise for the race that allowed Toni to make an incredible comeback. We hope to remain at this level till the end of the season."

For Ducati MotoGP project director Livio Suppo, Elias' podium also proved once and for all that the GP8 is not just a 'Stoner bike'.

"I want to congratulate Toni for an incredible race: I'm so pleased for him, for his team, for Filippo [Preziosi] and Vittoriano [Guareschi] because today we showed our bike is competitive not only with Casey," he said.

Meanwhile, Elias' team-mate Sylvain Guintoli, who was even faster than Toni in morning warm-up, finished just twelfth after tyre problems.

"This morning everything seemed perfect," said the Frenchman, who set the fourth quickest lap time. "I registered a very interesting rhythm that would have allowed me to be easily in the top five during the race. Unluckily, after only a few laps, I lost grip with the right side of the front tyre and my lap times were more than a second slower compared to this morning. I don't know what happened, we are analysing the situation, but I am very disappointed because we could had have a really good race."


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