Leaving Poncharal speechless
Tech 3 Yamaha's James Toseland produced a heroic performance in a sun drenched Spanish GP today, the British rider fighting illness to claim a deserved top six finish.
In what proved to be a mentally and physically draining 27-lap race
for Toseland, the rookie showed great strength of character to become the first British rider since 1990 to score successive top six premier class finishes.
Weakened by a serious chest and throat infection all weekend, Toseland slipped down to 10th from eighth on the grid in a frantic opening, but then he produced a series of brilliantly executed overtaking moves to move into fifth by the penultimate lap.
Toseland's never-say-die attitude saw him delight a 131,563-strong crowd with passes on Chris Vermeulen, Andrea Dovizioso and Loris Capirossi in quick succession at the Curva Sito Pons. Fifth going into the last corner, he had to settle for sixth after losing a place in a chaotic finale. Capirossi was the chief benefactor from a tangle between Dovizioso and Toseland as he snatched fifth from the 27-yearold.
“I really had to dig deep in that race. There are two groups of people that kept it together this weekend and they are the Tech 3 team and the Clinica Mobile people. I want to thank them for helping me get out there. At one point it looked like I might not be able to ride so to finish sixth is a great result. What I was worried about was if I couldn't breath properly then that might have made me dizzy in the race but luckily I was fine”, reflected the World Superbike champion. “The bike felt great and the front Michelin tyre worked great. That's why I was able to pass all the guys at the same place coming onto the back straight. I couldn't pass anybody down the straight and the only place I could pass was where I did.
I was getting good drive off the corner but I still couldn't get side by side on the straights to line them up for a pass on the brakes. It would have been do-or-die on the brakes, but because my front tyre was so good it really hooked well mid-corner round turn five onto the back straight and my corner speed carried me underneath Vermeulen, Dovizioso and Capirossi.”
“ I was disappointed not to keep fifth, especially after I'd battled so hard for it. The last corner was a bit manic and I don't know how Andrea stayed on the track because he was in there so hot. I got a bit pushed out and Loris came up the inside. To finish sixth like in Qatar and back that result up on a track I've never raced at in my condition is really good for me. This bike and this team are capable of being in the top six, even with a touch of bronchitis. I'm looking forward to getting the new engine now. We are one of the few that can actually look forward to getting something new for the next race and I can't wait for the new engine”, he concluded.
“I am speechless about James today”, commented Team Manager Hervé Poncharal. “He has been in a really bad condition and we were really doubtful about whether he would ride this weekend. For the race distance on this physical track we had a big question mark, but what he did today shows the mark of a true champion. He was fighting very hard at a pace he was never at in practice because of his physical condition. He never gave up and was very strong throughout the whole race. He was almost fifth but the last corner is always a difficult place here. Dovizioso tried a bit too hard to pass but I'm still happy. James is improving all the time and for sure with the new engine and feeling fit in Estoril he will be even better.”
Toseland's result leaves him sixth in the world championship standings, while Tech 3 Yamaha remain fourth in the team championship points.