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Interview: Aleksandr Tonkov

Interview: Aleksandr Tonkov
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Alex Tonkov took his first podium of the season in Thailand in only his second GP on Yamaha!

The Russian hasn’t taken long to get used to the blue machine but he also had to over come a dislocated shoulder that put him out of the second half of the 2015 campaign.

Tonkov looks like he is approaching his best form again so we caught up with the talented Russian to get his take his season so far.

Gatedrop: The first GP’s are now done, are you happy with how they went for you?

Aleksandr Tonkov: Yeah, it’s going good at the moment. We are in a good place in the championship. In the first one I struggled a little bit. The second round was a lot better, in Thailand I wasn’t expecting such good results as I am not a guy that’s great in the heat, I’ve struggled with it pretty bad before.  I have worked a lot during winter, we are getting better and that is what we have shown. It is nice to end up in the podium, unfortunately I had some problems with the bike in the second moto so it cost me like 20 seconds to keep the bike there. Overall, I was happy with the podium for sure. Now, I am a little bit sick, we have been working hard in the sand and feeling really good.  Last week I got sick, it’s already been a week where I haven’t rode or trained and feeling really bad but I will do everything to feel better for tomorrow.  The goal is Monday, we try get in shape for Monday and try for good points.

Gatedrop:  You had two good years with Husqvarna but you have decided to change to Yamaha for this year, what’s the reason behind the change?

Aleksandr Tonkov:  I was struggling you know, you could see, I was doing good in some races but I was a lot of the ground and making strange mistakes. The bike was good and the guys did everything for me. I was just struggling and couldn’t find myself on the bike. Maybe it was my fault but I just decided that I needed some changes. During the two years I made some good results but on the overall I feel I was staying at the same place and not making any improvements. I think it was a good choice to make changes – I have more motivation now with the new team and new people around me.  I am pretty happy with the change, my brother works with me again, after three years he is with me, my mechanic is still with me. People I have already worked with before so I am really happy, I feel at home with the team.

Gatedrop: It is your last year in the MX2 class, what are your goals for the season?

Aleksandr Tonkov:  I just want to stay healthy. I have the speed, I know I can ride at the front so I just want to stay on two wheels all of the season and be there at the last moto in US.

Gatedrop: You have been racing in MX2 since 16, would you agree that we are still to see the best Aleksandr Tonkov?

Aleksandr Tonkov:  I mean, we are getting better. I am feeling comfortable on the bike and we are still working with the bike, the settings and suspension.  I think we are going to get better, I am sure. We are still working every day like it’s still the off season pretty much.  For sure, it will pay off and I feel more comfortable as I learn the bike more. I don’t want to do something crazy, I just want to be safe and consistent. Being there every race is the main thing, to do something crazy, I’m not that age anymore! (laughs).

Gatedrop:  I have seen you ride quite a lot but I have to say the best I have seen you ride was at the Nations in Latvia. You must have been happy with how that went for you!

Aleksandr Tonkov: Yeah, it was a good weekend, you know. For sure, no one expected it as I had a big injury in Mexico. I wasn’t even sure if I would ride or not. I just came there and said to myself ‘okay, if I ride I ride’, because we didn’t have another rider so I said I would give it a shot try, why not? So, I try, I did a few laps in the warm up and put in the fastest lap time. I was pumped with that so, yeah, it turned out a good day.

Gatedrop: You will be going into the MXGP class in 2017, do you have a deal with Yamaha?

Aleksandr Tonkov: Yeah, I have a one year deal with Yamaha in MXGP. I am really happy with that because it is clear the 450 is a good bike.  The guys are showing it, Febvre with the red plate, Van Horebeek on the podium.  The 450 bike seems really good, the frame is the same, it’s the same bike but with more horsepower. It’s really important, it should be the same like it was in Latvia. The same bike with the same power, it worked good for me there so hopefully it can go good. If all goes to plan then hopefully I can ride it at Maggiora, at the Nations the 450 hopefully. I hope we can stick with the plan.

Gatedrop: Russia could have a strong team at the Nations at the end of the year with yourself, Brylyakov, Bobryshev. A top five finish wouldn’t be out of the question!

Aleksandr Tonkov: Yeah, we have a good team.  Bobby is riding really really good this year and Brylyakov also improves a lot. I hope we can stay healthy and work to get better during the season.  For sure, we have a good chance, we have been close but we are always missing a strong third rider but now the puzzle is coming together – just need to be bring it to the Nations. Especially at Maggiora, it is my favourite track and at my favourite country in Europe.  Many positive things come with this race so I am really looking forward to it.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

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