Gresini Honda rider Toni Elias met the huge expecations of the home fans with a stunning ride in the Grand Prix of Spain, battling for a podium position in a race won by Valentino Rossi, ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Colin Edwards.

The youngster from Manresa, who celebrates his 24th birthday tomorrow, recovered important positions after making a disappointing start from the third row of the grid and charged through to fourth place in a high-paced race. As the first Bridgestone rider across the line, Elias once again showed his grit and determination.

It was a real shame for his team-mate Marco Melandri, who dominated the morning warm-up but didn’t find the right feeling with his bike for the race and struggled to eighth place. Marco is now looking ahead to tomorrow’s test and to the next GP in Turkey, where he has taken victory for the past two seasons.


TONI ELIAS (4th): “I’m really happy. With respect to the race in Qatar we have grown a lot and together with the team we’ve done a great job. I didn’t get a good start and in the beginning it was hard to get the tyres up to temperature. I just tried to maintain a constant pace and make up as many positions as possible. The pace of the front guys was incredible but when the others started to have problems I was able to maintain my pace and get past Stoner, Checa, Melandri and Hayden. I’m the first Bridgestone rider home so it’s a good result. We’ve worked well together and we still have some room for improvement.”


MARCO MELANDRI (8th): “It’s a disappointing result at a circuit where I should have done much better. This morning we were really quick in the warm-up and I was confident but unfortunately in the race I suffered with the same problem as in Qatar – to pass people I need to brake in a really aggressive way and that takes too much out of the front tyre. Tomorrow we have a day of tests to try a few different solutions and we’ll work particularly on the forks ahead of the race in Turkey, a circuit that holds a lot of good memories for me.”


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