BMW Superbike: Toseland Out, Elias In?

2012 World Superbike

Last Friday, BMW Italia World Superbike’s James Toseland announced he was forced to retire from motorcycle racing due to wrist injuries sustained at private testing at Aragon in March.

With this news still looming in the WSBK paddock, the BMW Italia World Superbike team reported that Moto2 Champion and current LCR Honda rider Toni Elias is scheduled to test ride the BMW S1000RR WSBK machine at Misano Tuesday and Wednesday.

But although Elias is the likely candidate to replace Toseland for 2012, the 28-year-old Spaniard is still under contract to compete in the remaining five rounds of the 2011 MotoGP Championship.

Serafino Foti (Sports Director for the BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team) says: “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 (2011) races.”

BMW says a series of circumstances has made this test possible. First, there was the withdrawal of Toseland from the competition, together with the curiosity of Toni Elias to try out a Superbike; on the other hand, the longtime friendship between Foti, and Lucio Cecchinello, owner of the Team LCR, along with the Japanese manufacturer’s willingness to grant the rider permission to participate.

Serafino Foti says: “I would like to express my personal thanks to Lucio Cecchinello for his willingness to cooperate and to Honda for going along with his request.”

As stated previously, Toesland’s retirment was forced due to his private-testing crash. During the wreck, the 30-year-old Brit broke some bones in his right wrist. Even after surgery, Toseland’s throttle hand had restricted movement, and he decided on the advice of his doctor to retire, effective immediately.

Toseland also emphasized that from a safety point of view his condition could be dangerous for other riders on the track as well as himself, BMW reports.

James Toseland (BMW S1000RR World Superbike) says: “2011 has been a tough year for me and this week has been one of the most difficult of my life, but advice from professionals has made it clear that my crash at Aragon has left me with a permanent disability, which means that I will never again be able to ride competently at this level.

“While that’s hard to hear, I have to place the emphasis on the safety of other riders in the paddock as well as myself and I realize that it’s not fair to occupy a World Superbike seat with a team as professional as BMW Motorrad Italia when there are fit and talented riders available who are desperate for this type of opportunity.”

As for Elias, he has participated in world championship racing in the 125, 250, Moto 2 and Moto GP categories, winning races in each categories, with different teams and motorcycles. But he has never had a chance to try out an SBK. His curiosity about this championship and about this bike has prompted everyone concerned to organize the upcoming test, BMW reports.

Serafino Foti says: “James’ farewell to racing certainly was not something we were happy about. After all, James is a champion! But obviously we also have to look forward. The tests on 13 and 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.”