In Sunday’s Race Two, Elias drafted past Mathew Scholtz on the run to the checkered flag to finish fifth, which was his best race finish so far this season on his Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000R.
Then in a live TV interview after the race, Elias, age 40, said, “It’s nice to finish like this. Today was my last race.”
In a follow-up interview Sunday evening, Elias told Roadracingworld.com, “This was the last one. When you have these thoughts it’s difficult, but the moment arrived. I’m super grateful and thankful to John [Ulrich, Team Hammer Co-Founder] and Chris [Ulrich, Team Hammer Vice-President of Operations] and the entire team to support me, to work hard, to have patience. It’s been nice. It’s been three rounds, but I was suffering myself. I didn’t feel comfortable at any time, and it’s time to stop.
“It’s not about the bike or not. It’s about how you feel, your brain, your heart, your thoughts, the way you push, how you brake, how you open the throttle, how aggressive you are. I’m not there anymore. Until the last moment I work hard, I push hard, but it’s in the back of my mind. I think some days ago, and I cannot continue. It’s time. It’s time to let some young riders take the place and push.”
Chris Ulrich said Elias’ announcement came as a big surprise.
“I know he hinted about it last week and we had a discussion on Friday,” said Ulrich, “but he was very frustrated in the conversation. But I could also see he wasn’t set on ‘Kill.’ I know from my own experience, and I was never at his level, but the day my brain shut off from racing was my last day of being a racer. And I was done. So, if he has that doubt, then fine.
“It’s a bummer he’s not going to complete the project. It’s disappointing the results weren’t magic, but on the other hand I identified some things at Road Atlanta and I stepped in at Barber to help just with the interface with Toni and to manage the program a little bit.We made changes quickly. We accommodated requests. We improved the engine performance of the motorcycle and overall, which helped Richie [Escalante], too. We’ve been pushing hard, and this weekend we saw the push. It is what it is. Riders do rider things. I don’t regret signing him up for the project. I don’t regret any of it. I wish Toni the best in all of his future endeavors.”
Ulrich then confirmed that Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki will have two Superbikes on track at the next MotoAmerica round June 23-25 at Ridge Motorsports Park.