The 24-year-old fractured his left femur during Thursday morning's first free practice session at Assen; the Spaniard losing the front of his Gresini Honda through the fast sequence of left handers that end the lap.

Elias initially slid harmlessly across the asphalt, but when he reached the gravel trap he was pitched into an awkward tumble - causing the damage.

"I knew I'd broken my leg straight away," recalled Elias. "I tried to put it back in position even though the pain was tremendous. Hopefully I can recover quickly and be back on track soon. I also want to thank all the Clinica Mobile staff for their help and support."

After visiting the Clinica Mobile, where the fracture was diagnosed, Elias was transferred to the Wilhelmina hospital in Assen for further checks and was operated on this afternoon. Doctor Costa accompanied the 2006 grand prix winner throughout and stated that Toni will need three months to recover, meaning Elias might not ride again until the last three races of the season.

In a twist of fate, Elias also missed last year's Dutch TT after injuring his shoulder in exactly the same session.

"I'm really upset about Toni's crash and hope that he gets better and returns to join us soon," said team-mate Marco Melandri.

While Elias recovers, speculation will now inevitably begin as to who might ride his Bridgestone-shod RC212V in the forthcoming events - with Briton's Neil Hodgson likely to be high on any list, alongside Honda's WSBK and BSB stars.