Former MotoGP star Toni Elias has clinched the 2017 MotoAmerica title for Yoshimura Suzuki at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
The Spaniard, who was sitting at home with nothing to do 18 months ago, wrapped up the title with three races left to run after a win put him 84 points clear of team-mate Roger Hayden and is the first one-two for Yoshimura since the heady, big-bucks days of Mat Mladin and Ben Spies.
The win was also the 15th of Elias’ career and it moves him into a tie for ninth with Eric Bostrom and Freddie Spencer on the all-time Superbike win list. His next victory would move him into a tie for eighth with his childhood hero Wayne Rainey, the president of MotoAmerica.
“I’m so happy, for many reasons, first of all because Suzuki gave me this important deal last year. I found an incredible team, good bosses, the technicians, the mechanics, Suzuki from Japan, Yoshimura, always the best. This year the new bike has been amazing. We could fight a lot with this new bike power,” said Elias.
“The last rounds the situation came better and better. I didn’t want to wait (to win the championship), I wanted to win today and we did it. Josh (Hayes) and Roger pushed me a lot. I was trying to open a gap and it looked possible, but at the end I was thinking no.
“They came back, but at the end everything finished in a good way. We could win this championship. It is an amazing feeling for me (and) for all this group. I’m so happy and proud of these people, so for me it’s not only a championship, it’s more than that.
“I decide to quit between five or six hundred days ago, and look at how the situation can change, no? Just a phone call (from Yoshimura Suzuki), come here, I start to get good results. This time, being here, winning, and being champion is amazing for me. I did some mistakes in the past, and this has been a big lesson I will remember for the rest of my life.
“I will continue doing my best. I will enjoy this moment, and congratulations to my rivals, Josh, Roger, Cameron (Beaubier), they have been so strong. We’ve had big battles. We enjoy, we suffer and they did an incredible job. They pushed me hard and in the end we finish perfectly. I’m so happy.”