Aleksandr Tonkov’s Grand Prix career is temporarily on hold as the Russian tries to resolve visa and administration issues in his home country to be able to return to Europe and consider international travel as part of the 20 round 2017 Grand Prix series.
Tonkov, who will climb into the premier class due to his age of 23, initially has one more year of a contract with Yamaha Motor Europe and was set for a berth with the Wilvo Yamaha team alongside Shaun Simpson until his ‘status’ predicament. That saddle on the YZ450F has now been taken by Arnaud Tonus and #59’s fate with the Dutch team hangs in the balance. Tonkov has not competed since the Grand Prix of Lombardia and struggled with a hand injury. He had picked up two MX2 podium finishes in Thailand and Argentina.
“He is trying to fix the visa problem and there is some hope that he can return by the end of the year but it is difficult to say,” commented Wilvo Yamaha Team Principal Louis Vosters. “For us here in Europe it is almost hard to believe…and it is also unfair because he has done nothing wrong but there is just a problem with his papers. I am hoping he can be back with us to race but Yamaha have to make a decision about it. We will see.”