Aleksandr Tonkov overcame heat and humidity in Thailand on Sunday to finish on his first MX2 podium since joining Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha over the winter.
In searing heat Tonkov started the early race in third and passed Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel after four laps to hold second place until the finish. Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha mechanics adjusted the Russian’s YZ250F overnight to adapt to the slippery and rutted track.
Alvin Östlund pleased his entire Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha family with a start in 10th and rose spot by spot to eighth, but lost control in a deeply rutted corner while passing a lapped rider with three laps to go. The Swedish teenager surrendered three spots in the standings to finish the first MX2 moto in 11th.
Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel started the early MX2 race second, and played a game of cat and mouse with Tonkov behind him until lap five. Paturel, last week’s eighth place finisher in Qatar, held on to fourth for the finish, flashing a smart combination of speed and control despite the overwhelming heat.
Kemea Yamaha rider Brent Van doninck crashed in the second corner of the flat and rutted track at Suphan Buri to leave the first moto early. The Belgian top five finisher from Qatar also crashed in the same spot during Saturday’s qualifying race.
Van doninck started the second MX2 moto in Thailand from a wide gate pick, but showed great speed and nerve to climb steadily from 15th to eighth and save 13 points in the 2016 season classification to remain ninth overall.
Paturel’s second moto start in ninth was less aggressive than the morning race, but the young French MX2 rider picked his lines steadily to pass slower riders each lap and finish sixth in the late race and fourth overall in Thailand. He now sits seventh overall in the 2016 season classification.
Östlund held his position in moto two and continued to demonstrate excellent fitness and an ability to ride with the leaders, passing from a start in eighth to finish seventh for eighth overall in Thailand and a very impressive 11th overall in the 2016 season classification.
In the second MX2 race in Thailand, Aleksandr Tonkov recovered from the heat and humidity to start fourth and within four laps rise up to third, but failed to pass second place rider Pauls Jonass of Latvia and stalled his YZ205F long enough to lose six places almost immediately. In hot pursuit, the Russian wasted no time in recovering to finish an incredible third in the late race and third as well on the final podium. In the 2016 MX2 season championship Tonkov is now third overall.
After two consecutive weeks of racing and travel, MX2 now pauses until the end of March when competition will resume at Valkenswaard in the Netherlands.
“I’m really proud of this first podium of the year, and I hope it won’t be our last, said Tonkov.
“I had a pretty good start, but then I made a small mistake and flooded my bike. After that I did everything I could to catch up, and I had no idea even what position I was in, I just tried to race all the way to the finish.
“I don’t really take the heat very well, and it was even hotter today, my head was spinning at the end. But motocross is the same for everybody.
“I have to thank Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha team for their great work to help me this weekend, and also my brother who is my training mechanic, and we worked all winter, so it’s nice when hard work pays off.”
Paturel said: “I was feeling really good on the bike and physically everything went well, just the hands were the problem. It’s a pity but a fourth place overall in the second GP is good.
“It was a good battle with Tonkov, and it went quite well until the end of the race where I cracked a little physically because of the pain in my hands. They were really damaged by the blisters and really painful. It’s a shame because also in the second race I had to back off because of my hands.
“The heat was hard but didn’t affect me too much. I worked hard with Jacky Vimond our trainer in the winter and that helped me to handle the heat in a good way. I’m looking forward to Valkenswaard now.”
Östlund commented: “For the first race I was in eighth position but I lapped another rider and tried to come in front of him in the corner too fast and crashed. I was so angry about that because my clutch was up and my handlebar was a little bent, and I lost three positions with three laps to go.
“In the second race my start was really good, second I think, so I just tried to stay on the waves and finish well, because it’s difficult in the heat. I finished seventh which is really good for me, and eighth overall, so I’m really happy.”
Van doninck said: “I crashed during the race big on the same spot as yesterday, and I couldn’t start the bike on time. I was two laps back and couldn’t take any points, so I stopped, because it was better to save my energy for the second moto.
“I came up from 18th to 12th in the second moto, so it wasn’t so bad, but I was so tired at the end that I couldn’t see anymore, it was just black. That’s the first time that has ever happened to me.
“Valkenswaard is close to my home, so it’s little bit like a home race for me – and it wont be as warm and it’s sand, and I like sand. The season is long and we still have a lot of races to do.”