Injured Toni Elias Wins Moto2 Pole

Moto2 Qualifing Qatar

Toni Elias rode through the pain barrier this evening to claim pole position for tomorrow’s first ever Moto2 World Championship race. The former MotoGP rider crashed heavily during the final pre-season test in Jerez and arrived in Qatar on crutches following surgery on a fractured ankle and hand.

The 27-year-old Spaniard had to have painkilling injections ahead of qualifying, but the pain was forgotten as he parked his Gresini Moriwaki on the number one spot in parc ferme at the end of the 45-minute timed session.

Reigning 125cc World Champion, Julian Simon, secured second place on the grid aboard his Mapfre Aspar RSV machine, just 0.006s ahead of former 125cc rival, Stefan Bradl. Another former MotoGP rider, Alex De Angelis, secured fourth position, with the result that four different chassis manufacturers will be represented on the front row of the Moto2 grid in Qatar.

A late charge by Yuki Takahashi secured the Japanese rider fifth place on the grid, ahead of Jules Cluzel, Raffaele De Rosa and the elder statesman of the Moto2 class, Alex Debon.

Toni Elias (1st – 2´ 01″ 904) says: “I´m happy and surprised because I didn´t expect to go so fast after this evening´s free practice, which didn´t go well – partly due to my physical condition but also partly due to the set-up. The team worked hard to give me an easier bike to ride and then I was lucky to get behind Simon, who I was able to follow. I gave it everything and ended up with a magnificent lap time. Honestly speaking when I was back at home starting my rehabilitation I was thinking it would be hard to even make it out to Qatar and when I eventually made it out here I was struggling. Psychologically I have had to be really strong and I´ve adapted to the situation. I´m really happy. ”

Fausto Gresini says: “Like I said yesterday before we came out to Qatar we weren´t sure if Toni could race so for him to set pole was unthinkable. It is really special to celebrate the first ever Moto2 and to do it with Toni, a rider who is woven into the history of Gresini Racing, is fantastic.I want to congratulate him for the way he rode in the condition he is in and for the enthusiasm he is showing for this project. I´m pleased with the effort from everybody in the team because it is never easy to start out in a completely new championship. Finally I´m happy for Moriwaki, who we have forged a great relationship with and who have put a competitive bike underneath our riders.”

It seems there was nothing that could have stopped Toni Elias from taking the first pole position in the history of Moto2 – not even the effects of a double operation just ten days before the first Grand Prix of the season. The Spaniard left home eager to simply take part in this race but could never have imagined that he would be starting it from the front of the grid.

However, his grit and determination shone through once again as he left the rest of the huge field trailing in his wake. With 41 riders on the grid, the first ever Moto2 race promises to be an

exciting affair.

Sunday Moto2 Race Guide

• Toni Elias, who takes the first ever pole in the Moto2 class, is the first winner of a premier-class Grand Prix to appear in one of the smaller classes since Loris Capirossi moved down to compete in the 250cc class in 1997 after winning the final 500cc race of 1996 at Phillip Island.

• In the first ever Moto2 qualifying session the top 30 riders on the grid have qualified within two seconds of pole position.

• Second on the grid, Julian Simon will be aiming to maintain his winning streak, having won the last three 125cc GP races of 2009.

• In third place on the grid is Stefan Bradl, at the circuit where he finished third in the 125cc race in 2008 – his first podium in Grand Prix racing.

• Completing the front row is Alex de Angelis, who finished second in the 250cc race in Qatar in 2007.

• If all 41 qualifiers line up for the race on Sunday it will be the largest grid for an intermediate class Grand Prix since the 250cc West German GP in 1988 at the Nurburgring circuit when 48 riders lined up on the grid.