Surprising Retirement: Former MotoGP Rider Quits Mid-Season
After Race 5 of the MotoAmerica season Toni Elias calls it quits – The Spaniard was involved in famous situations with Valentino Rossi in MotoGP.
After his best race finish of the MotoAmerica season, former MotoGP rider and Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias surprisingly ends his road racing career.
The 2017 MotoAmerica champion finished a strong fifth at Elkhart Lake before declaring after the race: “Today was my last race.” The Spaniard thanked his team and explained his decision:
“For three race weekends, I have been suffering. I didn’t feel well anymore. It is time to stop. It’s not about the bike, it’s about how you feel.
The thoughts of how you attack, brake and throttle – how aggressive you are. When you have these thoughts, then it becomes difficult. But the moment has come.”
After first racing in 1999 in the 125cc class, Elias completed his first full season in the World Championship in 2000 as a 17-year-old. In 2001, he celebrated his first Grand Prix victory in Assen and finished third in the World Championship.
His path led to the 250cc class, where he was one of the top riders in the following years. In 2003, he finished third in the World Championship with five victories this season.
From 2005, Elias stepped on the gas in MotoGP. At that time, he was the best rookie of the year.
2006 went down in the history books for two situations. At the season opener in Jerez, Elias and Valentino Rossi came into contact at the start. Rossi crashed and eventually finished 14th. Elias finished fourth.
And in autumn 2006 there was a photo finish between the two at Estoril. Elias was 0.002 seconds ahead of Rossi at the finish line. At the end of the year, Rossi lost the world championship title to Nicky Hayden by just five points.
For Elias, Estoril was to remain his first and only MotoGP victory. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 he achieved further podium finishes.
But he didn’t get another place and had to be relegated to the then-new Moto2 class in 2010. Elias became world champion taking seven race victories.
In 2016, Elias started a new career in the USA in MotoAmerica. In 2017, he was champion on a Suzuki and runner-up in 2018 and 2019.
Elias was the second European after the Briton Reg Pridmore to win this championship title in the USA.