CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Arnaud Tonus buried memories of two years of injury problems in the best possible way by finishing first and second in the two MX2 motos at Beto Carrero for the Grand Prix of Brazil last Sunday. It was the first victory by the 23-year-old in the FIM Motocross World Championship and also a landmark maiden success for Switzerland at the highest level.
“It is unreal. I don’t feel like I have won,” Tonus said afterwards. “Everything went so great today and it has been so emotional after what has happened over the past two years. I’m so happy.”
After riding a KTM, factory Suzuki and factory Yamaha in the last five years as a GP rider Tonus has finally found a good place on the works CLS Kawasaki. He should have made the podium at the opening round of the season in Qatar with his lap-times and speed but lacked the necessary starts to run with the leaders.
In Thailand three weeks ago he suffered with the fuel problem that caused mechanical woe for a number of riders in both classes. Across the jumps and deep ruts of Beto Carrero he put the package together to beat Glenn Coldenhoff and Max Anstie and even take the lead in the MX2 standings by two points.
“I felt like I rode a bit tight actually,” he assessed. “My starts were good which made things a bit easier. It was a good GP. I tried not to think about it too much [being close to winning in the first moto].
“I didn’t want to lose my focus by pushing too hard. I was looking ahead and trying to stay solid. I was nervous for the last 15 minutes. I saw the board saying I had 15 left and it felt like it would never end. I wasn’t riding I was just counting time! I was fine when I saw the ‘two lap’ board.”
In the second race he chased Coldenhoff but kept cautious with the overall triumph safely in the bag courtesy of his 1-2 scorecard: “I knew I was in a position to win the GP and for sure I tightened up at that point. I preferred to keep my place because it was very easy to make a mistake on this track.”
Tonus then talked about his miserable experiences through 2012 and 2013. After winning the British Championship in 2011 he crashed at the first round of the domestic series in 2012, breaking his shoulder and his wrist and even ending-up with both arms in plaster. Returning mid-season and not fully fit he then snapped his leg at the Motocross of Nations; a nasty injury that drew complications and ruined most of 2013 and his first term with CLS.
“It seemed like there was always trouble with it and it too more than a year to heal,” he said on the leg. “It was a confusing time and even the doctors did not really know what was wrong. There was a time when I thought ‘I’ve lost it’ [his career] so to win a GP is really special.”
Lastly Tonus tried to ruminate on what it feels like to wear the red plate as the MX2 points leader (also a career-first). Something he managed after world champion (and winner of the opening two rounds) Jeffrey Herlings missed the Brazilian trip with a shoulder problem. “There are no words to describe what it feels like to be leading the world championship; so much has happened today. There are so many races to go so we have to keep consistent.”