“It wasn't possible on this occasion”
Marco Melandri and Toni Elias fought with determination in the final race of the year.
After starting relatively low on the grid Marco Melandri and Toni Elias both got away well to make up several places at the start of the
race. Marco, in particular, had a strong start to recover five positions in moving from tenth up to fifth, the Honda Gresini rider soon getting up to successfully battle with Nicky Hayden for fourth.
Third place was just out of his reach though as he was unable to catch John Hopkins who finished the race behind leading pair Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. Fourth place saw Marco end the season fifth in the championship, missing fourth overall by just two points.
Toni Elias also fought competitively to make up four places from 14th at the start, but was not as quick as he would have hoped in the early laps and eventually had to settle for tenth.
The Honda Gresini Team would officially like to thank Marco Melandri and Toni Elias for their efforts this season and for some great years together - three with Marco and two with Toni - with have brought success and satisfaction to us all.
MARCO MELANDRI (4th in race, 5th in World Championship with 187 points):
"I knew that it a would be a tough race, but today was much harder than in practice. I made a good start to gain five places but I lacked feeling in the front end and the bike was moving around a lot. I fought with Hayden for fourth and was looking for Hopkins, but it wasn't possible on this occasion. It's disappointing because I wanted a podium and I've missed out on fourth place in championship by two points to John. I wanted a better result but thanks to Fausto and the team for all their hard work."
TONI ELIAS (10th in race, 12th in World Championship with 104 points):
"I made a good start, but I struggled a lot in the first ten laps with a full tank, and was not getting enough grip. Once my pace improved I went after Vemeulen, De Puniet and Capirossi but couldn't catch them. It's a shame because I wanted to end the season with a better result. I want to thank the team and Fausto for the two last years. They have been like a family to me and they helped me get my first MotoGP win."
"Marco had a good race and was lapping at a decent pace but he was let down by his starting position. We thank him for three great seasons, and his first win in Turkey in 2005 is a special memory. His overall record with us of five victories and 17 podiums and his second in the World Championship in his first year with the team speaks for itself. Toni deserves another big 'thank you' after two years with us, in which he took his first MotoGP win last year and then got two further podiums this year."