Even though he was a MotoGP winner and Moto2 World Champion, the 33-year-old Toni Elias was sitting on the bench waiting for an opening at the start of 2016. "He'd been hanging around in AMerica on and off for a year, racing the American version of the Superprestigio and enjoying himself.
When it was learned that Yoshimura Suzuki's Jake Lewis, who was hurt training in the pre-season, would be unable to test and race the first couple of rounds, Elias got the call and man did he ever make the best of it.
After a stunning Superbike sweep of MotoAmerica's 2016 opener in Austin, Suzuki couldn't get a contract for Elias written fast enough. After being shutout in 2015, the team was back in the win column and they weren't going to let their newfound prize get away. A win at Road Atlanta had Suzuki almost giddy, but the rain at New Jersey 1 proved Kryptonite, for Elias and he fell back from heavenly to human status.
Still Elias proved a solid championship contender all season on tracks he'd never raced before. Now with a year of experience on the American circuits, and a new GSX-R1000 on the way, the Suzuki vs Yamaha battle looks like it's about to ratchet up.
Now if only Honda, Kawasaki and Ducati could join the fray!