The absence of HRC factory rider Evgeny Bobryshev due to a delayed visa approval was perhaps the most surprising news of the British Grand Prix at Matterley Basin last weekend.
‘Bobby’s failure to cross the UK border meant the pristine CRF450Rs lay dormant for the eighth round of the FIM Championship with Max Nagl still rehabbing from a broken wrist.
Fellow Russian Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna’s Alex Tonkov was able to empathise with his countryman. Tonkov raced to sixth position in the MX2 class but one year earlier was left in the same administration delay and mess as Bobryshev on this occasion.
“The last time I was here was in 2012!” he said. “I spoke with Bobby yesterday and it is really a pity he could not come because I know he has been working really hard for the past month. He has not had much luck with the injuries and he wants to show what he can do and ride at the front.”
Honda bosses tried every available option to push through Bobryshev’s submission and the rider himself had been notified on May 6 that his access to the UK had been approved.
Tonkov was at a loss to explain how the visa ritual for the Russian MX athletes failed again. “It is pretty bad that you make all the papers but you still miss the race. He did it even earlier than me; it is really strange,” he commented. “I cannot say it [the process] was easy, the same as always, last year it was me who did not make it. Finally I was still a bit lucky and got it in time, actually faster than I expected. We have ID cards from Europe because we have been living quite a long time here and it is only for the UK that we need the visa.”
Naturally at Matterley there was talk of how the recent political stance with Russia in Europe and the wider world might have affected the situation. Tonkov was quick to stress that he believes Russia’s international standing had no bearing on their passage to compete in an international series. “No, no,” he claimed. “It is not about that. It has always been like this [a hassle and unpredictable], for a long time now. The problem is that if you submit your passport for too long then you cannot travel. It is always difficult to find the right time to do everything.”