Toni Elias to Ride for Yoshimura SuzukiIn the wake of Jake Lewis’ late February injuries that include several broken bones in his hand and shoulder, Yoshimura Suzuki is going to be getting a little help from an outsider,Team Yoshimura Suzuki has tapped heavy hitter Toni Elias as a substitute rider during the upcoming MotoAmerica tests at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, March 23 and 24.
Toni Elias has some serious credentials on his resume; a former Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner, Yoshimura Suzuki will be able to collect some serious data off a rider with a serious record behind him.The world of Superbike is a bit of a different direction for Elias but that shouldn’t faze him in the least. At 32 years of age, the man has done a little bit of dabbling over the years, racing for an Aprilia satellite team in the World Superbike Championship back in ’13 and ’14, and so its safe to say that he won’t be in unfamiliar territory as he puts laps down on the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike.“We’re happy to have a rider of Toni’s caliber available to test with the team in Austin later this month,” said Yoshimura R&D of America Senior Vice President Don Sakakura. “We’re not certain of Jake’s timeline to return, so it’s possible that Toni could also race with the team for a round or two.”The injury for Lewis couldn’t have come at a worse time, especially for a guy who we happened to share a track with recently at the Shoei X-Fourteen launch; Lewis spent much of the day humbling us at Chuckwalla. Having rider input during the last phases of testing can be seen as a critical time.Elias shared his thoughts on the substitution with, “I’m exicted to have the opportunity to ride with Yohimura Suzuki,” he said. “I’m wishing a quick recover for Jake and I hope that I can help the team in developing the Suzuki as the season begins.”Elias has more than a decades worth of Grand Prix racing to his name, having raced in all three classes of GP racing for 16 years.Yoshimura Suzuki should be able to glean plenty of positive data from a man with 17-career GP wins, including his fabled MotoGP victory at the Portuguese Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2006. In a crowd pleasing pass, Elias struck on Valentino Rossi and Kenny Roberts Jr., securing the win on the final straight when Rossi reclaimed first, only to be drafted by Elias and giving up the victory. A photo finish, it was and stands today as the closest finish in MotoGP since the introduction of electronic timing. In 2010, Elias became the Moto2 World Champion, scoring seven Moto2 victories in the process.Most recently, we saw Elias kicking up some dirt on the flat track in last year’s Superprestigio of the Americas in Las Vegas. Flat track is one aspect of the sport that Elias has done for many years now.As always, keep your browsers open to Ultimate MotorCycling for the latest in racing and motorcycle news. Have any thoughts on the Jake Lewis situation and how this is going to impact the coming MotoAmerica season? Be sure to share below.