It’s not exactly a secret that Toni Elias has been having a tough season in MotoGP this year. Typically two to three seconds off the pace from the front-runners, you’d be hard pressed to remember that the Spaniard was once a rising start in the MotoGP paddock, and dominantly won the 2010 Moto2 Championship. Rumors of Elias’ exit from the LCR Honda have been going almost from day one it seems, though the down to Earth and pleasant rider continues to persist onward.
Though electrifying the crowds with his first race win in 2008, Elias appears to be on his way out of MotoGP…for the second time in his career. Unable to do anything with the LCR Honda that Randy de Puniet confidently rode in 2010, Elias is now reported to be testing at Misano this week with the BMW Italia World Superbike squad, which in-turn recently just lost James Toseland to a career-ending hand injury. With WSBK becoming the home from MotoGP’s Lost Boys, a move to the premier production motorcycle racing class seems almost fitting for Elias, but is that in the cards?
The news of the test, coming on the heals of Toseland’s retirement, is being billed as just a matter of circumstance, as Elias had expressed a desire to try World Superbike at various points in his career, after winning a race in every GP category (125GP, 250GP, Moto2, & MotoGP). Already having a test on the books for September 13th & 14th, BMW Italia’s loss of Toseland leaves the team with an extra pair of bikes. With LCR Honda’s Lucio Cecchinello having a close connection to BMW Italia’s Serafino Foti, and Honda reportedly signing off on the test, Elias will get to cure his curiosity for how green the grass is on the production-side of the lawn.
“James’ farewell to racing certainly was not something we were happy about,” said BMW Italia Sporting Director Serafino Foti. “After all, James is a Champion! But obviously we also have to look forward. The tests on 13/14 September were scheduled some time ago, and we wanted to invite Toni in order to satisfy his interest, as well as to take advantage of his experience and riding skills.
“The upcoming test is not aimed at replacing James in the Championship, partly because Toni is already committed to the MotoGP Championship. However, over the next few days we will identify and officially name the rider who will be competing for us in the last three races.”
Despite these auspices, it is hard for the test on the BMW S1000RR not to be construed as a signal as to where Toni Elias may end up for the 2012 season. We’ll see who replaces Toseland shortly, and we hear John Hopkins is available (though looking for another ride with Rizla Suzuki).