Arnaud Tonus looks as though he will be back in the FIM Motocross World Championship in 2017 with the Wilvo Yamaha team favourites to land the 25-year-old Swiss rider’s signature.
Tonus has been heavily linked with a return to Grand Prix after a promising but ultimately unlucky two year term with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki in which a virus, broken wrist and dislocated shoulder prevented the MX2 Grand Prix winner from being able to show his talent and speed on the AMA stage. It will be Tonus’ first year of competition on a 450cc motorcycle.
Wilvo Yamaha will be stepping into the MXGP class next season and are expected to confirm Shaun Simpson – the Scot returning to the brand with which he seized his first Grand Prix victory in 2013 – and Tonus; the pair having previously been teammates on Yamaha machinery and for Steve Dixon’s British set-up in 2012.
Aleksandr Tonkov was initially pencilled in for the YZ450F and for what will be Yamaha’s official satellite team in MXGP but the Russian has allegedly suffered visa and paperwork issues and his status for the start of the 2017 campaign is unsure; thus the spot for Tonus (also apparently coveted by the likes of Australian Champion Dean Ferris) has become available. Tonkov’s future for what would be his first term in the premier class is also up in the air until he gains clearance for travel and work outside of his native land.
Yamaha will have four riders on YZ450F machinery in 2017 and, as in previous seasons, it looks as though Wilvo will carry out their own race development independent of Michele Rinaldi’s YRRD works crew and with Yamaha Motor Europe’s GYTR also having input.