Elias Confirmed With LCR Honda For 2011

It's been clear for a long while now that Toni Elias would be returning to MotoGP for the 2011 season, for more than one reason. Many felt Elias should never have lost his ride at Gresini Honda at the end of 2009, after the feisty Spaniard finished the season in 7th position, ahead of a large group of riders who weren't forced out. And when the Spaniard wrapped up the inaugural 2010 Moto2 World Championship, it became unthinkable that he would not find a ride in the premier class.

The question was, who with? Of the factory rides, only Suzuki had an open spot, and that disappeared rapidly once Suzuki decided to scale back its involvement to just a single rider for 2011. That left only a satellite Honda or the Pramac Ducati squad, but after a difficult year with the Pramac team in 2008, Elias was not keen on that switch. With Interwetten Honda folding, and Honda and Dorna pushing for Hiroshi Aoyama to take the empty seat at Gresini, only LCR Honda was left. Current occupant Randy de Puniet had been slowly falling out of favor with team boss Lucio Cecchinello since breaking a leg at the Sachsenring, and so with some nudging from Dorna, the LCR team became the obvious seat for Elias to fill. 

Here's the official press release announcing the move:


Estoril, 31 October 2010: LCR Honda MotoGP Team is pleased to announce its new cooperation with the Spanish Moto2 Champion Toni Elias and Honda HRC for the 2011 MotoGP Championship. 

The LCR Team is ready to take part in their 6th season in the MotoGP class thanks to the support of the Japanese Constructor which has renewed its cooperation with the Team Manager Lucio Cecchinello.

Lucio Cecchinello: Team Manager

"First of all I want to thank Randy for his precious cooperation and for the several successes we have shared in the 250cc class and in the MotoGP class in five years together. The chance to work with Toni Elias is a big incentive for us because this is a very important moment for presenting to our sponsors and partners a new project. The nice thing is that Toni and I raced together in the 125cc class; I was at the end of my career and he was at the beginning. I remember he was a very very hard rider and very resolute. As time goes by he has improved very much and I think he is a very talented rider with a lot of experience. All the staff and I give him our warmest welcome!"

Toni Elias: Rider

"I am thrilled to be back in MotoGP and I am happy to race with the LCR Team. I want to thank Lucio and Honda for their trust and I am anxious to return. I have known Lucio for a long time as we raced together in the 125cc class from 1999 to 2001; although his Team is not an official one it is very professional and well organised. Being their only rider is a further warranty for me."


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..... think this a good move.

Toni is simply not suited to MotoGP. Yes he is a world class racer, but just not in MotoGP.

The Moto2 class was made for him.

Super high corner speed and spec engine where his small lightwieght frame can get 100% from the engine.

As for the LCR Honda, it really is a mis mash of lots of different parts. Will LCR be willing to change to all stock parts for Toni?

I know Randy was running the old Illmor Ohlins and a slightly different swingarm. I wonder what else.

As for Randy, if he does go to the Pramac, he might as well kiss goodbye to his top 10 places.
All the Pramac & back to when it was Dantin Ducati has done is kill people careers in racing. Really bad move.
For Caparex, it makes no difference, the guy is soon to hang up his leathers, but Randy is a real talent, who has really made that LCR Honda get the places.

I really think that Randy and Toni have made bad moves.
I wish them the best & hope to be eating a very large slice of humble pie, this time next year, but I think what I will be saying is:

Toni will not win 1 race, nor get any poles.
Randy will not win 1 race & not even get a top 6, nor any poles.

I hope I'm wrong .....

If an overall experienced and relatively young rider who has just won the Moto2 champion is not MotoGP material, who is? Who is wallowing in Moto2 that deserves that seat more? Who is outside the paddock that would make a better selection? Should Pramac have tried to woo someone else? Where else should DePuniet try to get a ride.

..... he does not derserve the ride, and as the new Moto2 champ you would expect that rider to move up, what Im saying is thats it a bad idea for HIM.

His season in Moto2 has been far better then any seasons he spent in MotoGP. Yes he showed times of brilliance, but was never a regular at the sharp end.

I have always liked Tiger Toni, he really is a Legend in my mind, and its for this reason I would like to see him in Moto2 and get a few more titles under his belt.

In a way, this is a repeat of Troy Bayliss. A Supers champ, one of the best riders in the world by far, did good in MotoGP but not BRILLIANT, goes back to Supers and cleans up.

I dare say, CE2 could go back to supers and get better results then he is getting now in MotoGP.

I also have alot of time for Rdp. I think he does deserve to be in MotoGP, just not with Pramac.

The LCR set up reminds me of the old WCM Red Bull team by Peter Clifford who rain Gary McCoy for on the YZR stroker. The way that team & Dunlop made that Yamaha work for McCoys ( "different" !! ) style is just like the way LCR have made that HRC work for RdP.

Like I say, I have never bad mouthed them, nor have I said they dont deserve to ride in the Moto "X" Championship['s], I just think that when a rider finds a class that really suits them and they know they can win, why change, ALA J.M Aspar.

I wish class specialists had a more well respected place and folks really good at a formula could keep going for as long as they wanted. But that's not the reality of professional racing anymore. In the post Biaggi 250 era the upward promoting pressure and search for youth in the 'bigger' leagues has increased in intensity. Rising champions like Rossi, Melandri, Pogialli, Pedrosa, Simoncelli, Lorenzo and others have forged this path as the only way to go and if you don't follow it to MotoGP by the time you are 25 like them, everyone thinks you've missed your chance and should just lay down in your grave. Since this seems to be a hierarchy that's commercially successful the rules have been changed to keep the old codgers out of the 125cc class and that pretty much sealed the fate of all that don't fit that youth-promotion model.

And here the sport sits with a dwindling grid and few excellent options for all but the top 8 riders in the world. Our focus on these top riders perpetuates this lack of attention for the rest of the premier grid and another 20-40 real world class talents at the bottom half, moto2 and production racing have to scramble to make the most of their short careers.

"Toni will not win 1 race, nor get any poles."

LCR has never won a race and they haven't been on pole since Stoner. Why would you expect that to change?

The fact is, Elias has done better in MotoGP than RdP. I am a huge RdP fan but the view of Elias is totally undeserved.

AVG Points per finish: 6.3
1 Win
6 Podiums
Crash Ratio: 8.9

De Puniet
AVG Points per finish: 5
0 Win
2 Podiums
Crash Ratio: 24.7

When on the same race, Elias has scored higher than RdP 21 times compared to 20 time RdP has beaten Elias.

MotoTheory.com - MotoGP Data & Statistics

..... your right about Tiger winning 1 MotoGP in 2006, That was a great race, one of the tightest wins ever , but Im talking about Tiger in 2011, not 2006.

If Im wrong about the:

"Toni will not win 1 race, nor get any poles."

ref at the end of 2011, then I will gladly eat a large slice of humble pie with extra gravy.

I hope he does well, its just that he has been there (MotoGP) before and was good, just never brilliant.
Were as in Moto2 is was always brilliant ..... except today !

DePuniet has lost favor with Cecchinello since breaking his leg? Kallio torpedoed him and Randy came back as soon as possible...I suspect Dorna money to LCR and promise of an improved Ducati program (i.e rider-friendly) via Rossi/Burgess/Hayden lured Randy to Pramac, with the Playboy/Dorna/(insert other sponsor here) funding and publicity making the team rider relatively irrelevant to LCR. Cecchinello has been forward about being a business seeking sponsorship first, Dorna money is a big egg in his basket, and DePuniet can move forward on his riding merits. A 30-year fan of GP, I'm impressed with Randy DePuniet. I believe the days of the satellite Ducati team being a career-ender are ending as well. Call Rossi over the hill, Hayden a wingman, 2011 a development/transition year, Ducati is in MotoGP as a serious factory and I'm thrilled to see them challenge the Japanese formula! Toni is talented and entertaining, but no more title threat than Kallio.

I hope RDP gets a ride with Pramac. He's a fearless rider, and he's fun to watch. Maybe he can get on with the Ducati beast, especially if Valentino can aid the bike's development.

Elias has won races in each and every one of the 4 world championship categories he has raced: 125cc, 250 cc, Moto2 and MotoGP. As far as I remember, the only other rider in the paddock who has accomplished this is Rossi.

I agree with Brookespeed. If the Moto2 champ doesnt deserve a MotoGP ride, then who does?

The SBK World Champ? I think that is a soon to be 40 year old italian by the name of Biaggi. Should he come back to MotoGP then? Cal Crutchlow is taking Spies place in the satellite Yamaha team. I don't think anyone thinks he hasn't earned it. Is his track record any better than Elias'?

I don't see the debate about Elias getting a GP ride. He never should have left. He finished in the top half in his last year. Stick around for more Moto2 titles?! What for?! All the GP riders think moto2 is silly. Elias will be getting top tens and I dare say be the best satellite rider. Next year I think Super Sic will be his only satellite competition. He'll be good next year, why don't you think he's built for it? That would make me think half the class isn't built for it.
I'm just glad he's not with Pramac but really glad hes not with Suzuki!
Feel terrible for RDP, he looked SO strong the first half of the season. He was easily the best satellite rider the first half and who knows what might have been. He really deserves that ride. Its a shame LCR cant run a two man team, they actually have a competitive bike.

Will Elias get the special parts Honda de Puniet used or something else?

I assume the Ilmor-spec fork is because they bought their forks they didn't have use anymore and Randy got along with that front very well? Now that the factory guys use Öhlins, maybe LCR will upgrade too.

I hope Honda want to put a bit of extra effort for the Moto2 champion and not just throw whatever leftovers they have. Hopefully there will not be 4-5 bikes before the LCR in their ranking.

...I think.

Randy has done a terrific job this year riding the crap out of that LCR Honda, and has recovered remarkably fast after that broken leg.

I think that when you read between the lines here it's more politics and economics that makes up the basis for Lucio Cecchinello's descision, than the will to sign the better rider here. Cause I don't think that Elias will do better on that bike than Randy would have.

Just read the quote: "The chance to work with Toni Elias is a big incentive for us because this is a very important moment for presenting to our sponsors and partners a new project."

So, basically Elias brought some sponsors with him that Randy couldn't match?

I feel sorry for Randy, who now are left looking for a seat at Pramac after performing so good this year. Pramac, the end of the road for all MotoGP riders...

Maybe Pramac is not as bad as it looks. Sure, the Duc is an acquired beast, but maybe they've just not had the best of riders.
Starting the 800 era in 2007, Barros put the bike on the podium and finished 10th over all. Not bad for a veteran returning to the series. Hoffmann did bad, but I wonder if he would have done better on another bike.
In 2008, Eilas and Guintoli ended 12 and 13. Not great for Elias, but an improvement for Guintoli over his Tech3 year where he ended 16.
In 2009, Kallio and Canepa were obviously way down the order. But again, I wonder if the would have performed a lot better on different machinery.
Now in 2010, maybe for Espargaro the leap to MotoGP was just a little too big. He is young and crashes too often, but did show some good stuff on the Pramac.

Maybe RdP (and Capirossi?) can give Pramac just a little more shine next year. It would not completely surprise me.

Oh, pre 2007: Cardoso, Rolfo, Xaus, Hodgson... do we really think they were top notch MotoGP material?

It's not that the current Moto2 champ doesn't deserve a ride, but that Elias has already had his chance. I predict that Toni will do his usual routine. Occasional flashes of brilliance followed by races where he doesn't seem to turn up.

It won't be hard to be in the top half next year. With 16/17 bikes on the grid there's a good chance you will make top 10.