Growing up in the family bike shop in Manresa as the son of a ten-times Spanish motocross champion, Toni Elias was destined for a career on two wheels.
His early forays into the sport came in pocket-bike and scooter racing, before he began his pro career in the Spanish 125cc Championship in 1998. After finishing third in the national series the following year he won a ride on a Honda for his first full Grand Prix season in 2000.
It was in 2001, however, when the teenager became the revelation of the year after signing up to ride with the junior project run by Alberto Puig, battling for the lower cylinder category title until the end of the season. He won two races and finished an impressive third, up to this year his equal-best championship finish.
Elias’ natural talent and fearless aggression saw him make the successful step up to the 250cc class in 2002, challenging Manuel Poggiali for the title in 2003 until a last-lap crash at Rio cost him victory and the chance of the championship.
Elias struggled to reproduce his best form after switching from Aprilia to Honda for 2004, but flashes of brilliance convinced Fortuna Yamaha to draft him into the MotoGP class in 2005. The learning process under the Yamaha banner, forming a team with Rubén Xaus, was curtailed by an injury in France, but in the final third of the season Elias was able to demonstrate his evolution in the category.
The Spaniard then rode for two years with Fausto Gresini’s satellite Honda outfit, during which time he continued to show why he is regarded as one of the most exciting riders in MotoGP. His debut victory came at Portugal in 2006, in one of the greatest races of all time against Valentino Rossi and Kenny Roberts Jr., and although injury at his bogey track of Assen severely affected his 2007 season, he still impressed enough for Luis d’Antin to keep him in the category with his Ducati satellite team.
The Ducati venture proved to be a brief sojourn as, one season of mixed results and a pair of podiums after joining the Alice team, Elias was welcomed back to San Carlo Honda Gresini to spearhead their 2009 project.
His first season with top-end machinery, riding a semi-factory Honda RC212V, saw the Catalan rider make 12 top-10 finishes, with a third place podium at Brno. Despite this Elias was unable to secure a MotoGP ride for 2010 and instead continue his partnership with Gresini Racing in Moto2, riding a Moriwaki MD600
He started the year as one of the title favourites in the Moto2 class, and throughout the season his wealth of experience and race-craft has shone through as he claimed seven wins, including four in a row over the summer period. His characteristic “hang-on” riding style and charming personality has won him millions of fans across the globe, and the Spaniard becomes the first ever Moto2 World Champion at the age of 27.
Date of birth: 26/03/1983
Place of birth: Manresa (Spain)
First Grand Prix: SPA ’99 (in 125cc)
First Pole Position: GBR ’01 (in 125cc)
First Podium: FRA ’01 (in 125cc)
First GP Victory: NED ’01 (in 125cc)
Grand Prix Starts: 176 (14 in Moto2)
Grand Prix Victories: 17 (7 in Moto2)
Podiums: 43 (8 in Moto2)
Pole Positions: 11 (2 in Moto2)
Race Fastest Laps: 12 (2 in Moto2)
World Championship Wins: 1
Some facts about Toni Elías’s achievement:
• Toni Elias is the first ever winner of the Moto2 world championship.
• Elias has scored points in every one of the first fourteen Moto2 races of 2010 on his way to winning the world title.
• He has won seven of the first fourteen races of the year, more than twice as many as the next most successful rider.
• His tenth place finish at Silverstone is the only time this year when he has failed to finish inside the top five.
• Toni Elias has not surrendered the lead in the championship since he went to the top of the table for the first time, when he won the third race of the year at Le Mans.