The following is from Suzuki Motor of America, Inc...
Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., bids a fond farewell to Toni Elias, as the two will conclude their extraordinarily successful five-year partnership at the end of the 2020 season.
Elias took the American championship by storm in 2016, winning the first three races of his MotoAmerica Suzuki career on the then all-new GSX-R1000 after being called in on substitute duty. And with that, the duo of Elias and Suzuki were off and running.
The Spaniard came to the United States with the reputation as a world-beater, having previously earned the 2010 Moto2 World Championship along with Grand Prix race wins in the MotoGP, Moto2, 250cc, and 125cc World Championships. As lofty as the expectations may have been based on his international credentials, he more than lived up to them, forcing the remainder of the paddock to up their game significantly or get left in his wake.
His ultra-aggressive riding style, ability to eat up big gaps on the brakes, square up corners, and pull off nearly unfathomable overtaking maneuvers forever changed premier-class racing in the United States and allowed him to rack up 32 career MotoAmerica Superbike race wins and 60 podiums in the process.
The high point of his MotoAmerica Superbike career with Suzuki came in 2017. That season he powered to the championship on the strength of 10 victories and 18 combined podiums, never finishing lower than second in any race in which he took the checkered flag.
Toni also endeared himself to Suzuki’s racing family with his love for racing and infectious attitude.
“All of us at Suzuki would like to thank Toni for his passion, dedication, professionalism, and racing excellence,” said Kerry Graeber, Vice President MC/ATV Sales and Marketing at Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. “From his immediate championship success on the all-new GSX-R1000 to how he raised the bar of everyone around him, Toni has brought so much to the Suzuki racing efforts here in the U.S. and we wish him the best of luck and success in everything he does moving forward.”
Elias recently announced on social media that it was time to move on and that his future plans remain uncertain, including the possibility that this weekend’s MotoAmerica finale at Laguna Seca could mark the end of his legendary career.
“It’s been 5 years! What a Blast!” Elias said. “We won a lot … 32 wins, 60 podiums, 1 championship …It’s been amazing. To all staff of Suzuki Motor of America: Hayasaki-san, Kerry Graeber, Pat Alexander, Chris Wheeler, Yoshimura Racing, Don Sakakura, Yusaku Yoshimura, Team Hammer, John Ulrich, Chris Ulrich, My crew chiefs, Daisuke Hashimoto and Dave Weaver, my mechanics, electronics coordinators, chefs, truck drivers, through the best to the worst and through the joy and the pain … you guys have been my family and now my friends forever. Thank you for listening to me and understanding me, to have all the patience in the world to follow my instinct or crazy ideas. It was not easy but soon or later we achieved what I wanted. It was always with your help and that made it really special.”
“Also, thanks to my strong teammates, my friends Roger Hayden, Josh Herrin, and Bobby Fong. Maybe it is the last race of my career or maybe not. It will depend on many things. I am still very hungry for wins and to fight for championships but this time I will let destiny and the universe play and decide for me!”
“Thank you not only for supporting me during these years of racing. I am grateful for much more than that,” Elias said. “You guys gave me the opportunity of my life, to live in the USA where I met my wife, where we have three wonderful kids and beautiful things coming!”
Toni Elias, Team Hammer, and Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. will look to continue their strong form and close out the 2020 season with a flourish at the 2020 MotoAmerica season finale, which will take place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California this weekend.