James Toseland Announces Retirement, While Elias Gets To Test His BMW At Misano

The news may be a few days' old, but it is worth noting nonetheless: James Toseland has announced that he is to retire from racing motorcycles altogether. In a statement on his official website, Toseland told his fans that the wrist injury he had sustained while testing at Aragon back in March had not healed as he had hoped, and the fall at the last round of World Superbikes at the Nurburgring had exacerbated the injury, meaning it was no longer safe for him to continue racing. As a result, he had been reluctantly forced to admit defeat and retire from professional motorcycle racing.

The decision is a wise but sad end to a checkered career, which saw the Yorkshireman win two World Superbike titles, becoming the youngest World Superbike champion ever in 2004 at the age of 23 aboard a factory Ducati, then repeating the feat in 2007 riding a Ten Kate Honda. Toseland's early career saw him racing 125s as a youngster, before moving up to the World Supersport class at just 17 years of age. Toseland switched back to the British Superbike series a couple of years' later, before returning to the world stage with the GSE Racing team. Several years as a WSBK front runner followed, culminating in his two WSBK titles.

After winning his second WSBK title, Toseland made the move up to MotoGP, and made an immediate impression. The Englishman put his Tech 3 Yamaha machine on the front row of the grid at the first race at Qatar, and went on to post some strong results in his first year, though he never managed to finish better than 6th. A crew chief switch at the end of the season made him unpopular with the team - and especially with his teammate Colin Edwards - and when Toseland struggled to get to grips with the spec Bridgestone tires, he never really recovered his position in the class. Ironically, Toseland had spent much of the 2008 season pushing team boss Herve Poncharal for a switch to Bridgestones, which eventually came once the single tire rule was introduced.

A year later, in 2010, Toseland returned to World Superbikes to ride the factory Yamaha. Pressure was once again high - the bike Toseland had been given to ride was the machine vacated by 2009 World Champion Ben Spies, but Toseland struggled once again with the machine, posting just four podiums throughout the season, while his teammate Cal Crutchlow went on to take 3 wins on the bike. At the end of the year, Toseland switched to the BMW Italia team, starting the 2011 season aboard the satellite BMW S1000RR alongside Italian youngster Ayrton Badovini. However, a crash during testing at Aragon saw him break his wrist, requiring reconstructive surgery to allow him to ride again. The second crash at the Nurburgring was the final blow to Toseland's career, reinjuring his wrist beyond repair.

Fortunately for Toseland, he has another, entirely different career path to follow. Toseland is an extremely accomplished pianist, and performs regularly with his band Crash around the world, and is commonly seen appearing at concerts held at various motorcycle racing events.

Toseland's immediate retirement has opened up an intriguing possibility. Over the next two days, Toni Elias - another rider who has struggled immensely with the current breed of Bridgestones in use in MotoGP - is to test Toseland's BMW S1000RR at Misano. Although both team and Elias have denied that Elias will race in WSBK during this season, according to Spanish sources in the MotoGP paddock, Elias will be riding for BMW in World Superbikes in 2012. The test at Misano gives Elias his first chance to try both the bike and the spec Pirelli tires which the WSBK series uses. It will be a crucial test of both Elias' ability to adapt to the Pirellis, and his ability aboard a World Superbike machine. A good result at Misano will seal the deal for Elias, with an announcement likely in the near future.


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Glad for Elias to get this shot, too bad they just won't let him go immediately, but contracts is contracts.

Toseland... yeesh. He was miserable his last year in MotoGP. I remember that one race where he got a ride-through penalty, was it for a jump-start? He was basically having a temper-tantrum inside of his helmet at his team (at least that's what it looked like) as he rode through pit lane. I think his career is definitely a bit sad, so much triumph, but also so much poison to tarnish the memories.

The reason JT was so pissed off in his last race at PI was because he had wrongly been called in for a ride through penalty (Race Direction later took the almost unprecedented step of apologising for this mistake). JT was in a fine scrap for 4th or 5th place on a track he knew well and at which he has always gone well. Not only that but it was a crucial period in the run up to contract time and JT was desperate to impress and stay in MotoGP.

Now wouldn't you be marginally upset if that happened to you?

And in my experience the poison normally comes from the pens of people who don't know or can't be bothered to find out the real story, not from JT.

He's absolutely that PV and a deserved champion. It's a real tragedy to have watched his racing career disintegrate. Just goes to prove that nice guys don't always finish first and how fragile the gift of any talent can be. Good luck to him in the future.

BMW have got to be kidding - with a number of great rider choices becoming available they are going to choose tony the turtle - they do think differently in bavaria! :(

People bashing Yamaha for choosing another "has been" rider without talent...Melandri.
Someday people might realize that struggling in MotoGP does not mean you're finished or ran out of talent.

Really? Toni proved he still has some winning in him when he secured Moto2 championship on more "normal" racing tyres. If one of my fav rider #33 said the Pirelli are along the lines of tyres that felt "normal", ie to say they wore and lose grip at the later part of the race, it may be a steady Toni the Turtle in SBK.

BMW Italia seems wise to have a seasoned racer like Tony and a younger Aryton.

Looking forward to see Toni on the SBK.

It was John Hopkins, himself, who suggested (via Twitter) that JT should make the trip to CA and meet the doctor who rebuilt his wrist.  Even if he doesn't race again, it will help him at the piano.

First, a very minor correction: JT won his first WSBK Championship with Ducati in 2004, not 2003.

Sad to see this end to JT's career, as up and down as it has been. I hope he finds success with whatever is next.

It was indeed 2004 that Toseland won his first title, it's been corrected now. Thanks for catching that, was getting my numbers mixed up. And for those asking, I have no idea how his wrist injury affects his ability to play the piano. If it's a question of strength, it may not be such a problem; if it's mobility which is the problem, it could be.

was the beginning of the end. can you imagine giving up on Guy Coulon and swapping for Garry Reinders becasue he speaks better english (i know i'm oversimplifying). who's that you ask? yes, exactly.

Sad to hear about JT's fall from grace following the 2008 MotoGP season, but he seems like a talented lad who will land on his feet somewhere else.

Testing Elias is a good idea, but if the electronics are as horrible as Haslam keeps complaining (quietly behind the scenes), Toni would do wise to find another team or to stick with BMW Italia.

If BMW Italia are looking for a replacement rider, they should look no further than AMA SBK. The season is already over.

Elias was pretty dominate in the inaugural season of Moto 2. Out of 17 races he had 13 top 5 finishes with 7 of those being wins. He was a mid-pack finisher on the Gresini Honda in 2009, uncompetitive on the Ducati in 2008, & having an abysmal 2011 season.

Why on earth would someone leave a class that suited them so well? Not every motorcycle racer belongs in the GP class. He thinks he can ride with the best, but his best puts him at the top of the Moto 2 class, not the Moto GP class, and there is nothing wrong with that. Kinda like poor Colin Edwards. Established Champion of World Superbikes, but cannot find a single win in Moto GP. When you crash in the last chicane on the last lap at Assen that is just the motorcycle gods trying to tell you this isn't where you should be riding. If he would have stayed in WSBK he could have taken additional championships over the dominance of Bayliss. Elias should have stayed in Moto 2 where he found success for himself instead of jumping back into the deep end of the pool where he has never really fit in. Maybe racing superbikes on the Pirelli tires might suit him. It ought to at least be better than anything he has done in the GP class.

Both Colin and Nicky missed the chicane and went off track, Nicky going into the gravel and holding on to it, while Colin merely ran on the grass and the rear end kicked out and he hit the deck. Normally you would try to avoid the gravel but in this case it just didn't work out that way for Colin. It was a great race seeing them battle back and forth.

Still I wish Colin would have gotten that single win in MotoGP.

I wonder if that wrist injury does not also prevent him from playing the piano properly. I would think that full movement and total control of your hand are even more crucial with that. Good luck to James anyway, he had a rough time after his first MotoGP season.

The Bridgestone spec tyres are gaining a reputation not unlike the Ducati Desmosedici, by the way...

David, are you sure that JT re-injured his wrist in the Nürburgring race?
What I've read so far sounded more like he just had a check-up after his crash, and they determined that his wrist was never going to recover sufficiently.
If he did indeed re-injure his wrist in the race, i guess it's fair to say that Nürburgring race direction killed Toseland's career.
Well, not entirely fair, but they deserve all the blame one can come up with! :)

Elias catches flack, but if you were to take away this season, he has had some real moments of inspired racing. I doubt he'd have been a MotoGP champion ever but he really doesn't deserve what's happened this year. The whole thing has been really sad to watch. Hope WSBK suits him well.
I've never been a giant Toseland fan but it's still sad to see him have to bow out like this.

For Elias coming up through the GP system and being from Spain, moving down to Moto2 was surely a bitter pill. Especially since he came through with Pedrosa. Winning Moto2 was a must. I can't see him wanting to go back to Moto2. I think WSB now with recent MGP top runners in that series it is no longer the place where so called non-hackers end up. Although the BMW is not turning out to be a wonderful package in WSB, I doubt Elias would be the caboose (end of the train) he is in MotoGp.

On Edwards, I recall two occasions where he was talking about returning to WSB with Ducati, but a ride always became available in MGP. One would have to admit, he isn't the only winless rider that remains in the series. As long as he stays at the sharper end, why not keep going?