Aleksandr Tonkov is happy with life as a factory Husqvarna rider for the Wilvo Nestaan racing team. His status means that he gets to experiment with the latest components for the track and last weekend at Arco Di Trento for the MXGP of Trentino the Russian used a new WP air shock in the rear suspension system of his FC250.
“We tested after Brazil because I wasn’t really happy with the bike. We found a decent setting with the spring but the WP guys had the air shock there and I tried it,” Tonkov explains. “I immediately asked if I could run it at Arco. After the first lap [testing] I liked the way it worked.”
WP’s development parts and service for the air unit famously made an appearance on Tony Cairoli’s 350SX-F last year and also on the 450 used by Ryan Dungey for AMA Supercross.
Ivan Tedesco has been running it within the stadiums this year. The Austria-based company offered the technology to the Husqvarna set-up for 2014 and apparently for the first time on a 250 in the MX2 GP category. After further tests Tonkov was a fan right away and explained some of the advantages over the conventional spring.
“It is pretty different and at first made the bike feel quite weird but you quickly get used to it. You cannot bottom-out this shock,” he said. “We were riding in the mud which can add a lot of weight to the bike but the suspension kept on feeling really good. It was much easier to turn. On the hard-pack like we have in Arco I feel that I have more traction on the exit of the corners. It also feels a bit softer on the sharp, small bumps; it does not kick you around.”
“The first big test is tomorrow in the GP and the kind of bumps we find on these tracks. I’m not sure if somebody used the air shock before in the world championship,” he added. Sadly he was not able to full show-off the new set-up; a poor Saturday qualification (DNF) was followed by a collision in the first moto and a top ten finish in the second.
“This year MX2 has some crazy competition,” evaluated the former Honda rider. “Many guys are so strong. Everybody has been working hard and it feels like the group is faster than last year. My speed is not bad now and I feel good. I have never ridden a European bike, always Japanese, so it has taken some time to adjust but we are getting better.”
Tonkov is seventh in the MX2 World Championship standings: “My fitness is improving and it was always my biggest problem. Last year I had the speed but not the condition and would start well but then fade back, so we have worked on that and the season is still so long.”
“Aleksandr is very keen to test and that’s what we like,” said Team Manager Jacky Martens. “He was confident with the shock and likes how it makes the bike handle on the braking bumps and for extra traction. Romain [Febvre] is more rigid with a set-up that he knows and likes and can bring decent results. Of course we will give him the possibility to test when he is ready and wants to.”