Elias Heads To World Superbikes, Replaces Fabrizio

The 2013 Moto2 rider line up is proving to be rather fluid. The latest in a series of changes to the line up is the departure of Toni Elias from the Blusens Avintia Moto2 team, after a season of disappointing results: the 2010 Moto2 champion's best finish this year was a 9th place at Jerez.

Elias is part of a chain reaction encompassing three different paddocks, and stretching into 2014. The catalyst was Michel Fabrizio, who is leaving his Red Devils Roma team in World Superbikes with immediate effect. Fabrizio has had a positively mediocre season so far, his only podium coming at the season opener at Phillip Island, a great disappointment as the Italian started as an outsider for the title. After financial disagreements with the team, which arose at the Silverstone round of World Superbikes, according to GPOne.com, Fabrizio and the team decided to part ways before the season was over, rather than at the end.

Elias will now replace Fabrizio at the Red Devils Roma team for the final four rounds of the year, at Istanbul, Laguna Seca, Magny-Cours and Jerez, with an option to continue in 2014, should his debut be a success, according to Spanish website Motocuatro.com. How successful Elias will be remains to be seen. The Spaniard has had a miserable time in both MotoGP and Moto2 since winning the inaugural Moto2 championship in 2010, never appearing on the podium since his championship year. Paddock consensus is that Elias' peculiar riding style requires a special rear tire to succeed, something which he has not had since the introduction of the spec tire in MotoGP in 2009. Elias seized the opportunity offered in the first year of Moto2 to take advantage of his racecraft and experience to win the title. With each new season the Moto2 bikes improved, and Elias slipped down the field. Elias tested a World Superbike BMW at Misano in 2011, but his times then were a long way off the front. Given more time on the bike, he should be able to make some progress.

The man Elias is replacing already has a  temporary ride. Michel Fabrizio is said to be replacing Johnny Rea at Pata Honda, after the Ulsterman broke his left femur at Nurburgring. Rea crashed on a patch of oil left by Federico Sandi's Pedercini Kawasaki, an incident which should have caused Race Direction to red flag the race. Rea is likely to be out until the end of the season, offering Fabrizio the opportunity to ride the last four races on the Pata Honda. Fabrizio will hope to reestablish his WSBK credentials, in the hope of securing a better ride in 2014. Most of the good WSBK rides for next season are already locked up, but with the names of Johnny Rea and Eugene Laverty doing the rounds in the MotoGP paddock, there could be seats available.

Elias' Moto2 seat with the Blusens Avintia team is to be taken by the Argentinian rider Ezequiel Iturrioz, currently racing with the MR Griful team in the Spanish CEV Moto2 championship. Iturrioz is currently 13th in the Spanish championship, his best result an eighth place in Aragon.

Below is the (Spanish) press release from the Blusens Avintia team announcing the split with Elias. Non-Spanish speakers use Google Translate to get the general gist of the press release:


El equipo Blusens Avintia y Toni Elías deciden de mutuo acuerdo no finalizar juntos la temporada de Moto2

Barcelona/Madrid, 9-09-2013. El equipo Blusens Avintia y el primer campeón del Mundo de Moto2, Toni Elías, no finalizarán juntos la temporada 2013.

Ambos unieron sus esfuerzos e ilusiones en un proyecto que les debía llevar a conseguir los resultados que por calidad y profesionalidad les corresponden. Sin embargo, no siempre los acontecimientos suceden como se espera y pese a la dedicación, buena sintonía y unión existente entre el equipo y el propio Toni, no se estaban consiguiendo los objetivos comunes.

No es ningún secreto que los resultados alcanzados hasta el momento no eran del agrado de nadie, pese a que el equipo ha proporcionado todos los medios necesarios y Elías ha dado el máximo sobre la pista.

Toni ya había puesto su mirada en el mundial de Superbikes para la próxima temporada, pero una repentina oferta de un equipo al piloto manresano para finalizar este año en dicho campeonato, ha acelerado el proceso.

Elías agradece el esfuerzo y dedicación que el equipo ha demostrado esta temporada y, especialmente, las facilidades que se le han dado para poder acceder a la propuesta de Superbike.

Por su parte, el equipo Blusens Avintia se siente satisfecho de haber compartido esta temporada con un piloto de la categoría de Toni Elías y agradece al campeón del mundo su profesionalidad y afán de superación.

El argentino Ezequiel Iturrioz, piloto del CEV de Moto2, sustituirá a Elías hasta el final de la temporada.

Todos los componentes del equipo Blusens Avintia desean lo mejor a Toni Elías en su nueva andadura.

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Comments

Interesting these two riders interlinked as in my mind they have similarities: moments of exquisite skill and excelling in near domination partnered with all too frequent, disappointing below average. Many riders swing up and down over time but these two have stick out for the degree of fluctuation.

Yet, for reasons even I cannot explain I have very different feelings to them.

Elias's marginal win over Rossi and frequent scything through the moto2 field, in part endearing many doubters of the whole concept have lead to me hoping each race weekend for improvement usually followed by consternation and confusion when he frequently fails even to score a point.

Unlike Elias, I struggle to warm to Fabrizio. As a long term Nitro Haga fan', I longed for 2009 to be his year, finally. Fabrizio 100 points behind with three race weekends to go, allegedly refusing requests to play teammate to Haga, did little to help. As it turned out, Spies championship was fairly won and amazing. It was not Fabrizio's responsibility to help, arguably. Still, I am unmoved or drawn by him. I was amazed at the beginning of this season, I think, when Eurosport described him as the most experienced racer in WSB. (I never corroborated that but it is shocking for some reason). His riding often makes it look like he's a rookie.

I was going to delete this drivel but it does highlight the soap opera side to racing heroes and villains, our preferences and dislikes that are so important to many in racing.

I read in these comments recently that Dorna is wasting a resource not utilising this aspect fully to gain greater numbers of supporters and this highlights again this to be true.

Both riders are up and down. Elias years ago was criticized for not getting results until contract time. Fabrizio, seemed at one point like he would be a good rider, but instead ended up with high moments with Death Valley lows between.

Elias replacing him only leads me to believe similar results from Elias. They are the same level and caliber to me. Maybe he will surprise me and come out swinging. When Elias is focused he is dangerous, but if not...

I don't feel very good saying this but I really do not believe that Tony Elias has much left in him to prove that he is a great racer. When he went to LCR, the argument was that he was not able to handle the Bridgestone tyres, fair enough. But what is inexplicable is his fall in the Moto2 category of which he was the first ever champion. The tyres, the machinery were all familiar to him yet the man has been languishing in the middle of the grid. Did the one year in LCR destroy his confidence. Maybe. Hopefully in superbikes he will get some support and rehabilitation of his lost confidence. But otherwise he really looks like he does not have it in him to race anymore.

Elías was the first ever Moto2 champion, in a brand spanking new championship.
One could argue that the first Moto2 year was a learning year for everyone - the riders, the teams, the chassis manufacturers and so on. It's not a far fetched idea that Moto2 development during and coming into the second year were relatively massive, and thus when Elías came back to the series it was no longer familiar territory.
Just look at what he won on - the Moriwaki MD600 - a chassis that has one (1) race win since Elías championship year. I think the technical level, and thereby competition, had been thoroughly raised from the time he left until he came back.

Let's see if he can do anything interesting on the Superbikes. I doubt it as well, but could definitely be wrong.

Elias will be fast in SBK. The biggest challenge for him will be staying upright. After so many years on Brickstones and Dunrocks, he may push his Pirellis a bit hard. If he is a front-runner in SBK, he might also need to chill out a bit. He acquired some unflattering nicknames in the GP paddock and in the peanut gallery for some of the divebomb moves he pulled during his career.

Spectacular rider, though. People talk about Marquez late-braking and his ability to keep the bike online while grabbing a late apex. Perhaps they have no recollection of Elias riding the bike into the stands (practically), before flicking the bike on its side and clipping the very last bit of curbing. Estoril 2006 was especially mental. Crossed up and sideways, passing 2-3 bikes on the brakes into Turn 1 and the Parabolica Interior. Good times.

I think Elias' regression is a clear example of not being able to change your riding style to accommodate for bike/tyre evolution.

Elias' main strengths in my view were his late braking (used famously at Estoril in 2006) and ability to control a loose bike and fight side by side (which he probably picked-up riding with his dad, a famous spanish motocrosser).

These abilities did him well in 250, 990 MotoGP and Moto2 year 1.
Its clear that his technique, huddled with the bike while dragging his ass doesn't work well with modern high grip tyres and corner speep.

I hope SBK works well for him.

... the soft Pirelli's will suit him better, but I certainly wouldn't bet any money on it.