MotoGP castoff Toni Elias has left the Avintia Blusens Moto2 team immediately for a seat on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia in World Superbike, triggering a small chain reaction of rider movement.
Elias is replacing Michel Fabrizio, who was hired by Ten Kate Honda as a substitute this weekend for Jonny Rea, who suffered a broken left femur at the Nurburgring. Elias and Fabrizio will be on the grid this weekend at Istanbul with their respective new teams.
Fabrizio was happy to jump ship from privateer team Red Devils Roma, as economic tensions between the Italian and team management reportedly simmered all summer.
Avintia Blusens hired Argentine rider Ezequiel Iturrioz to replace Elias on its 600cc Moto2 Kalex-Honda. He is 13th this season in the Moto2 standings in the CEV, the Spanish national championship.
Iturrioz has no World Championship experience, but Avintia Blusens isn't stupid: The Argentine could attract sponsorship for 2014 when his home country is added to the MotoGP calendar.
Elias' departure to WSBK ends a long, inexorable slide to anonymity in Moto2 since he won the first championship in the newest version of the intermediate class in 2010. Elias earned seven victories on a Gresini Moriwaki-Honda in 2010, but those were his last podium finishes in the World Championship.
The Spaniard returned to MotoGP in 2011 with LCR, finishing 15th in the standings. He dropped back to Moto2 last year, finishing 17th in the standings. He was 18th in the Moto2 standings this season after 11 races.
Of course, aside from the Moto2 championship, Toni Elias can fall asleep at night knowing he did something that few others can claim--he beat Valentino Rossi in a MotoGP race. But Estoril 2006 was a long time ago now ...