Former MotoGP winner and Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias will substitute for the injured Jake Lewis in the upcoming MotoAmerica tests at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 23-24th.
While Elias has primarily been a Grand Prix rider for most of his career, the 32-year-old Spaniard is no stranger to Superbike racing. He raced for an Aprilia satellite team in the Superbike World Championship in 2013 and 2014. In Austin he’ll test the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike.
“We’re happy to have a rider of Toni’s caliber available to test with the team in Austin later this month,” said Yoshimura R&D of America Senior Vice President Don Sakakura. “We’re not certain of Jake’s timeline to return, so it’s possible that Toni could also race with the team for a round or two.”
Lewis was injured late in February in a training accident suffering broken bones in his hand and shoulder. He is slated to return later this season.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to ride with Yoshimura Suzuki,” Elias said. “I’m wishing a quick recovery for Jake and I hope that I can help the team in developing the Suzuki as the season begins.”
Elias is a 16-year veteran of Grand Prix racing, having raced in all three class categories of GP racing.
He has 17-career GP wins, including a legendary MotoGP victory at the Portuguese Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2006. In that race Elias was in third on the final lap, but made daring passes on Valentino Rossi and Kenny Roberts, Jr. to take over the lead. Rossi actually got back into the lead but Elias tucked in and drafted past Rossi at the chequered flag. The race was so close it had to be reviewed to determine the winner. It was the closest finish in MotoGP since the advent of electronic timing. Elias became Moto2 World Champion in 2010, scoring seven Moto2 victories along the way.
Elias is an avid flat track racer as well and he participated in last year’s Superprestigio of the Americas in Las Vegas.
The 2016 MotoAmerica season kicks off at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on April 8-10th.