Arnaud Tonus and Shaun Simpson, of Wilvo Yamaha MXGP, descended on the scenic venue of Pietramurata this past weekend, as the Italian circuit played host to the fifth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. Tonus, a race winner in his homeland seven days prior, arrived at the hillside with some momentum in his corner.
The Swiss pilot put that to good use in the two practice sessions on Saturday morning, as he recorded lap times that put him inside of the top three each time. That, unfortunately, did not quite translate to a great start in the qualifying heat, as he rounded lap one on the cusp of the top fifteen and with a considerable amount of work to do.
Recording lap times that were competitive with the leaders, Tonus carved through the field with some elegant riding and secured the ninth pick of the gate for the following day. Shaun Simpson, on the other hand, was not so fortunate. Although he started outside of the top ten, he made some quick moves to advance to ninth almost immediately. ‘24’ was competitive in that position until a small crash curtailed his efforts and left him in eighteenth at the chequered flag.
A brilliant start in the first MXGP moto left Arnaud Tonus inside of the top three at the end of lap one and right with a pair of former champions. Tonus shadowed his competitors in a calculated manner through the first half of the race, then pounced on the rider in the runner-up position on lap twelve of nineteen. Tonus then started to erase the deficit between himself and the race leader, but ran out of time. Just two seconds separated him from the eventual winner at the end of the thirty-minute moto!
Tonus was restricted by a mediocre start in the second outing, but again showed good pace whilst edging closer to the top five. After spending a majority of the encounter in sixth, he eventually crossed the line in seventh and secured third overall on the weekend. The thirty-six points that he achieved also saw him jump to eighth in the series standings.
Shaun Simpson enjoyed a consistent day, as he advanced from twelfth to tenth in the first of two MXGP motos. The second moto was a little more turbulent, however, as he got caught up in a crash in the second turn and then had to charge forward. He was already in the top twenty after just one lap and then advanced to fourteenth at the flag. Simpson was handed eleventh overall at the end of the weekend and occupies the same position in the series standings.
The Wilvo Yamaha MXGP team will now begin to prepare for the first Dutch Grand Prix of the season, which will be held at the historic circuit of Valkenswaard next weekend.
Arnaud Tonus: “Overall, it was a great weekend. It was another step forward for the team and myself. In the first moto I rode a really good race. It has been a long time since I last had that feeling on a bike! Fighting for the win is something special. I really enjoyed it. My start was not great in the second moto, but I fought the whole race and finished seventh. I think it could have been a bit better. It was still great, so I’m happy.”
Shaun Simpson: “I was really quite pleased with my first moto. Tenth wasn’t overly bad and I felt like I was picking some decent lines. I was pretty happy with that. I was looking for much of the same in the second one and got out of the gate a little better, but Tony [Cairoli] slid out in the second corner and what could have been a sixth or seventh-place start ended with me in twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh. It was just one of those things and I made the best of what I had whilst coming through the pack. I’ll try to get a good feeling on the bike this week, ahead of Valkenswaard, and then hopefully we’ll pick up a good handful of points there.”