Interview Toni Elias: “I will come to Sepang with a big smile”
Before the first official MotoGP test of the 2011 season commences next week in Sepang, the newspaper AS has interviewed the Spanish MotoGP riders and asked them about their expectations for the test and the season and how they spent their winter. This is time it’s Toni Elias’ turn.
So you’re already in Malaysia since Tuesday to get acclimated.
Yes, I left Barcelona and came to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, with stops in Milan and Singapore. I wanted to take my time to get my mind focused again on bikes.
Is it difficult for you to get back to squeezing yourself into airplanes again?
No. When you finish the season you’re sick of airplanes, but after a break of two months you start to look forward to the dynamics of travelling again.
Has this winter been shorter for you because of the many celebrations of your Moto2 title?
To be honest I had a lot of work until the end of December with a lot of commitments for the title and that made the break rather short, but I tried to enjoy every event and then I could rest.
Did you ride any bikes?
Yes, motocross. Since January I’ve ridden a lot.
A lot of riders have been injured doing motocross. Don’t you see it as dangerous?
You have to avoid the dangerous bits which in Motocross are the jumps and I don’t do those.
Do you still ride against your father, the real Toni Elias?
Yes and I usually lose out. He knows a lot about riding motocross and my physical advantage can’t compete with his technique.
What do you expect from the Sepang test?
I am excited to return to MotoGP and I want to work with my new team. I want to start off calmly, but steadily moving forward.
Not taking into account your debut with Honda in Valencia, how do you plan to makes this test count?
The sessions begin at nine and finish at six o’clock in the afternoon, with the advantage that it is hot, so I can do a lot of laps. Only this way we can make changes to get the feeling on the bike and work better, with less risk.
In Valencia you were among the last. What gap to the front would leave you satisfied?
I do not plan anything, just try to be as close as possible.
Is it more of a personal matter that you get back to the feeling that led you to 7th place in the 2009 championship?
It’s about feeling good, getting to know the team more and also the bike and mutually adapt.
The obligatory question for all five Spanish riders in MotoGP: Do you believe Rossi when he says he will not be fully recovered from his shoulder injury until May?
It might not be one hundred percent, but it’s been some time since the surgery and it won’t be that bad. I don’t know what his tactic is, but being who he is and riding a Ducati, which is like owning the whole of Italy, he’ll do well. Moreover, he also brought his technical staff with him. This project will work out, surely.
What changed for you in confronting the season as a MotoGP rider instead of Moto2?
It’s very different. The physical preparation is different and I’ve put on the kilos again which I lost to ride in Moto2.
Not much, two or three, but it’s hard to get them back, because one way is to eat more which goes very fast and the other one is building up the muscles for which you have to work a lot with weights. I’ve strengthened the body and I think I have prepared well with gym, motocross and in the mountains. I got a bit bigger and improved my stamina.
You seem very motivated.
I’ll go to Sepang with a huge smile because I’m a MotoGP rider again. I missed riding a bike that transmits so many feelings, like the power, the slides and all that.
EXTRA: Spending the winter away from the track
Preferred holiday? Just spending time with people I love, my family and my friends, that’s enough; and even better when I can do some mountain sports like snowboarding or doing a climbing trip.
Most anticipated Christmas gift? I’ll settle for very little: a dinner with the family.
Best gift you gave? I gave very few gifts. [Laughs] In my family it’s more about the personal affection.
How do you notice “La cuesta de enero”*? It doesn’t matter what your rhythm is. It is difficult for everyone, but worst off are those who are unemployed. I hope it doesn’t get worse.
Any sport that you enjoy as a spectator? Almost all matches of Barça and the Dakar Rallye where my friend Pep Vila drives trucks.
Books or films that are part of your holiday? I’ve read ‘The Alchemist’ because a lot of people talked to me about it and I liked it.
Facebook or Twitter? I’m on Facebook.
*“La Cuesta de Enero” refers to the financial (and mental) struggles many people experience in January after spending an excessive amount of money during Christmas time for presents etc. and now come back to work.
Interview by Mela Chercoles for AS.com
Photos: LCR Honda