Colin Wright has labelled James Toseland's maiden season in MotoGP as 'outstanding' before predicting he will finish inside the top five overall in 2009.

The two-time World Superbike Champion made his long-awaited graduation to the premier class in 2008 with Tech 3 Yamaha, the Brit going on to win plaudits for his early efforts, even if his form faded during the middle of the season.

The British rider ended the season a fair 11th overall with a best result of sixth place, achieved a total of six times - most notably at Phillip Island. However, while his fall at Donington Park and lacklustre form at Indianapolis raised doubts about his ability to get the set-up right on the M1, Toseland's performance has come in for significant praise from Wright, team manager of GSE Racing.

GSE Racing is credited for giving Toseland his big chance, offering him a spot on the 2001 World Superbike grid despite having never managed a top five result in either British Superbikes or World Supersport.

Going on to win the 2004 and 2007 World Superbike title, Wright believes that, given how difficult the switch from Superbikes to MotoGP can be, Toseland has performed better than people give him credit for.

"He was outstanding this season," he told Crash.net. "I didn't expect him to do as well as he did, although James would have wanted to go better than he did - that is just what James is like.

"He was in at the deep end, just like he was in World Superbikes, so anyone who says you can go from World Superbikes to MotoGP and do the business is wrong. It just doesn't happen."

Wright uses the example of Toseland's Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards, who arrived in MotoGP regarded as one of the finest Superbike racers of all-time following his 2002 title win. However, in the six ensuing MotoGP seasons and more than 100 races, the American is yet to win a race.

"Look at the years Colin Edwards has been trying... He went out of Superbikes pretty much at the top of his game, but he has hardly ever been at the top of MotoGP, so in comparison Toseland has done a remarkable job."

Although he was overshadowed by fellow rookies Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, both of whom graduated from the 250GP class, Toseland's performances in the early part of the season ensured he will be back on the MotoGP grid in 2009.

With the benefit of greater knowledge, particularly where set-up is concerned, Wright has high hopes for his former prot?g?, predicting that he will be challenging for a top five finish overall.

"Next year, when they are all on equal tyres, James will be even stronger, so I expect him to finish in the top five next season," he added. "He will probably say he wants to be in the top three, but the thing with MotoGP is the harder you try, the harder it is, and that has been proven this year.

"In times when he has struggled with set-up, he has pushed harder and fallen off, or gone backwards, but what he has to do now is find the consistency he had in World Superbikes and he will be in the top five."

 

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