Trackside Tuesday: Third Time’s the Charm?

07/31/2012 @ 6:33 pm, by Daniel Lo5 COMMENTS

Only a select few men in the world can say they have defeated Valentino Rossi in a last lap duel in a MotoGP race. On that very short list is one Toni Elias, who bested the Italian legend to the checkered flag for his first and only premier class victory at Estoril in 2006, on a satellite machine no less. Championship-deciding repercussions aside, the win granted Elias a contract extension at a time when his GP career was in doubt.

However, the onset of the 800cc era, coupled with the introduction of control tires the following year, would prove to be the start of a rough roller coaster ride for Tiger Toni. Five seasons, a Moto2 World Championship title, and two MotoGP exits later, Elias was given an extremely rare third shot at a premier class ride this past weekend as a replacement rider for the Pramac Ducati’s Hector Barbera. True to the up and down nature of his career in recent years, this opportunity came just a week after he parted ways with the Mapfre Apspar Moto2 team at the previous round in Mugello, after being unable to replicate his title-winning form back in the GP middleweight class.

Unfortunately, his latest attempt at challenging the fastest motorcycle racers in the world came to an abrupt and disappointing end after crashing out of the US GP on only his second lap. With no further confirmed top class appearances on the horizon, Toni’s tenure at the pinnacle of the sport appears to have ended in the gravel trap at Laguna Seca. However, a MotoGP race win will always be on his curriculum vitae, and that’s no small feat.

Dan Lo is a motorsport photographer who covers AMA Superbike, World Superbike, and MotoGP. His online portfolio is at and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

Photo: © 2012 Daniel Lo / Corner Speed Photo – All Rights Reserved

  • I always loved watching him and Melandri back in the day. Maybe he should try to sneak into WSBK!

  • jimmy smith JR

    Looks like his big MotoGP return is off to a rocky start…pardon the pun. Har Har Har.

  • Adam

    poor Tony, for some one who is always so happy looking just to be riding he just never really clicked in the top class. I think maybe a SBK ride is in the future for him, at least he tried to save it until the end never took his hands of the bars until he hit the ground.

  • meatspin

    the first pic fooled me. I was thinking how is he dragging a knee cranked over in the gravel like that? Thats awesome. Then I saw that he crashed.

  • We’ll see whether Hectic Hector is back in the saddle at Indy. (I’d be very surprised.) If not, Pramac may yet decide that Toni’s still their best option for being on the grid. I hope he gets another ride and can redeem himself.