Toni Elias Leaves MotoAmerica Season Opener With Series Points Lead

Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias and Don Sakakura celebrate a victory at the Suzuki Championships at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sunday.

The following is from Yoshimura Suzuki…

Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias had a thrilling opening to the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship at the Suzuki Championship at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. It included a victory and ultimately the series lead for the 2017 series champ.

Elias made a miraculous save aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000 in Saturday’s race when he ran off into a gravel trap and charged out flat-track style, rear wheel spinning and gravel flying to come back and salvage second. Elias then came back on Sunday and turned in a strong ride to earn a solid 1.839-second margin of victory. The win, his 26th in MotoAmerica, gives him the series lead going into next week’s combined MotoGP/MotoAmerica weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Josh Herrin made his racing debut with Yoshimura Suzuki at the Suzuki Championships. He endured a tough crash on Saturday, but rallied to finish a solid fifth in Sunday’s race.

This is the fourth season in a row that Elias leaves the opening weekend atop the standings.

“It was a great win for the team today,” Elias said after Sunday’s race. “I was lucky to make it through yesterday with the run off the track, but we came back and took an important victory and it feels good to have the championship lead. Of course this is a long season and there are many talented riders, so we will have to continue like this to try to win back this championship”

Videos and photos of Elias’ save in Saturday’s race lit up social media with massive praise for his ability to keep his bike upright after flying into a gravel trap at high speed on the last turn with four laps to go.

He used his ample flat track and motocross experience to not only get back in the race, but come back strong to finish second.

“I nearly lost everything in the gravel,” Elias grinned. “I lost the chance to win, but it could be worse. In two laps I came back from fourth position to the second, so amazing.”

Herrin came away from Road Atlanta with a growing base of knowledge racing the Suzuki for the first time.

“It was kind of tough going through a couple of crashes this weekend,” Herrin explained. “But I came away with a fifth today and my head held high knowing that I’ve learned a lot and we’ll take that knowledge into COTA next week and shoot for better results.”

Next weekend the series moves to the beautiful Circuit of the Americas for the biggest motorcycle road racing weekend of the year, when MotoAmerica shares the international stage with MotoGP.