TONI ELIAS: Superman from manresa
I was watching the televised MotoAmerica Superbike race at Barber Motorsports Park after a particularly long day teaching an Advanced RiderCourse at FDU in Teaneck, NJ when I was once again reminded of what a phenomenal racer Antonio “Toni” Elías Justícia is. I’ve followed this speedster since his days in MotoGP (he raced in all 3 classes and in fact became world champion the inaugural year of the Moto2 class in 2010) However, this year he came into the US MotoAmerica Superbike series as a fill-in rider for the injured Jake Lewis on his Suzuki GSX-R1000. Normally a fill-in rider does not rise to the occasion and become immediately (if ever) competitive. But Toni was and continues to be. Quite honestly, his ability is just stupefying. Particularly at the Barber race. He had never even ridden a single lap there before that weekend so learning the track’s many tight turns, big elevation changes and very few passing areas was something he had to get proficient at very quickly. Especially when most of his competition had ridden this particular track many, many times before that weekend. Race 1 saw him take second place by a mere by .210 of a second behind his teammate Roger Hayden but race two saw him grab the lead early and eventually he won. Upon winning, he dedicated his victory to Luis Salom, the young Spanish Moto2 racer who recently lost his life at the Catalunyan Grand Prix during a practice session.
Elías has 17-career GP wins, including a legendary MotoGP victory at the Portuguese Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2006. In that race he tucked in and drafted past Rossi at the checkered flag essentially handing the title to American Nicky Hayden instead of Rossi.
Born in Manresa, Catalonia, Elías has brought a new level of competition to this year’s Superbike season and made it intensely interesting as a result. In the words of Yoshimura R&D of America Senior Vice President Don Sakakura, “We’re happy to have a rider of Toni’s caliber available to fill-in for our team. With his vast experience we hope he can step right in and provide us with valuable feedback.” Uh, Mr. Sakakura, I think you got a lot more than you bargained for in a very big way!
Follow Toni on social media! Instagram: @tonielias24 |
And now for a local rider feature. I present to you Doug MacLaren and his 1991 Harley Heritage Softail Classic. Doug belongs to The American Bikers Association or ABA. The ABA is all about breaking stereotypes and showing that bikers are not bad people. The group rides for kids and their communities, raising money for those in need. Doug and a few of his friends just started the NJ chapter and they are looking to build their group in numbers so if you have an interest in joining their good cause here in the Garden State, you can check out the main website: aba4u.org or contact Doug directly at Doug@highvoltagephoto.com. The ABA makes it abundantly clear that they are NOT an MC and they do not have club dues. They are simply good people doing good deeds for those in need. If you fit that bill, this may be a good fit for you as a rider and as a human being.