Toni Elias will bring his 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike title, his 32 MotoAmerica victories and his 2010 Moto2 World Championship to the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha team this weekend at Pittsburgh International Race Complex as a fill-in rider for Josh Herrin, who is still unfit to race after suffering from COVID-19.
The Spaniard, who was out of a full-time ride for the 2021 HONOS Superbike Series after riding an M4 ECSTAR Suzuki to fourth in last year’s MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, most recently filled in for the injured Kyle Wyman on Wyman’s Panera Bread Ducati at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca round. Elias finished eighth and seventh in the two races at Laguna.
Now he gets the chance to ride a Yamaha YZF-R1 – the bike he has battled with for his entire MotoAmerica career, ridden by the likes of Cameron Beaubier, Josh Hayes, Garrett Gerloff and Elias’ teammate for the coming weekend, Jake Gagne.
“I’m very happy for this opportunity to test this bike, to ride for this team,” Elias said. “We’ve been rivals for a long time and now I have the opportunity to ride for them. Even if it just for this weekend, it will be amazing. And then we will see. Right now, it is just for three days and that is it. Josh (Herrin) will come back. I know the bike is really competitive and I look forward to riding a competitive bike again because I don’t think last year was as competitive as it was before. I still believe in my potential and want to see this potential with a good bike again. That doesn’t mean I will make a podium or win the race. I will do my best. We will only have three practices and that is it, then race one and race two. The time will be what it will be, and I hope everything works well and I can have fun and feel this nice bike.”
Herrin tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the start of racing action at Brainerd International Raceway, round six of the 2021 MotoAmerica Series, and was replaced by JD Beach. Beach carded a pair of sixth-place finishes in his return to Superbike racing after a two-year hiatus. Herrin currently sits fourth in the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Series as the series heads to round seven at Pitt Race.
Elias has won two of the eight previous MotoAmerica Superbike races held at Pittsburgh International Race Complex since the series started visiting the 2.87-mile road course in Wampum, Pennsylvania, though it’s not one of his favorites.
“Pittsburgh, honestly, is not one of my best tracks but I always thought this is one of the good tracks for Yamaha,” Elias said. “Even if we won there sometimes, we suffered a lot against the Yamahas. It’s one of those tracks on the calendar where we were, ‘Okay, now we go to Pittsburgh and the Yamahas will be stronger than us and we will see.’ I am also looking forward to working with Richard (Stanboli the team owner/crew chief for Attack Racing) because I see the improvements that bike has. I like to analyze what is happening and all the things he did last year I was like, ‘Wow.’ All the things on that motorcycle are really thought-out and well-made and almost perfection. That is difficult to beat, and I am interested to work with him.”