Arnaud Tonus Interview

After several successful years of racing in Europe at the MXGPs in the MX2 class, Arnaud Tonus got the call from Mitch Payton to come race in the United States on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team. The 23-year-old rider from Switzerland is the team’s newest recruit after signing a two-year contract, which will have him racing a Kawasaki KX250F in the AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross series through 2016. Associate Online Editor Andrew Oldar caught up with Tonus between motos at Cahuilla Creek MX in Anza, California to see how the Swiss rider was adjusting to his new bike, new team, supercross, and living in America.

Ultimate MotorCycling’s Andrew Oldar: This is your first season racing here in the United States. Where did you race before coming here?

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Arnaud Tonus: I raced the Grand Prixs in Europe. I competed in the MX2 class, which is the same as the 250 SX class here. I have been racing them for about four or five years now and I had my best result this year. I was 2nd in the championship until I hurt my shoulder and I had to sit out a few races because of that. I gave up second position in the championship, but I was fighting for the title. After that, I had the opportunity to come race here in the U.S. and signed with Mitch Payton over at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, which is a dream come true for me. To come here and live the dream in America is really cool.

UMC: What team did you ride for in Europe?

AT: The CLS Kawasaki team. I was really happy to be able to keep the same sponsors such as Monster Energy and Kawasaki when coming here. That was great for me because they really supported me through the hard times as I was also injured in 2013. They really stuck with me. Plus, I love the Kawasaki, so it is great for me.

UMC: How did your ride at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki come about?

AT: I think it was from my results this year. I think Mitch was watching some of the races and from that point, we got in contact and everything just happened. I was very happy to get that chance.

UMC: How does the CLS Kawasaki KX250F compare to that of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki KX250F you are racing over here?

AT: I was surprised at first at how big of a difference there is between the two bikes. I believe they use different fuel here and different mufflers with the sound regulations. It’s so cool to have ridden the CLS Kawasakis and now come ride the Pro Circuit Kawasaki. I had always heard about how good the Pro Circuit bikes are and to be racing one is a great feeling.

UMC: How was your preseason training been going?

AT: I don’t have much experience in Supercross, so I have to spend a lot of time on the bike training in order to be ready for the 250 East Region Championship to start up. I broke my wrist 6 weeks ago, which stopped me for a bit. I just got back on the bike recently and am riding some outdoors to get back into it. I hope to be back on a supercross track next week.

UMC: How did you break your wrist?

AT: It was in the whoop section at the Pro Circuit test track at Glen Helen. I was really starting to feel good on the supercross track at that point. That was actually my first crash while riding supercross and I ended up breaking my wrist. Despite that setback, I am happy to be back on the bike and continue preparing for the east coast series.

UMC: You mentioned that you do not have a whole lot of experience in supercross. How are you adapting to it?

AT: I had ridden a little bit of supercross because I have a track back at home. I have been practicing on that, but I don’t really have any experience racing on the bigger tracks like here in the U.S. I have raced the Geneva and Bercy supercross races, but the tracks are just different here. I have a lot more to learn because the whoops are bigger and the tracks are faster as well. As a rider, I have to adjust to that along with setting my suspension up differently as well. I am definitely starting to feel good and I think it is going to be a great year for me.

UMC: You are out here riding some motocross at Cahuilla Creek MX in Anza, California. Are you doing that to see how your wrist feels or to get some time on a motocross track as well?

AT: It is more for my wrist at this time. I really need to get the strength back as it is only my second time back on the bike since the injury. It is still painful and stiff, which is normal, but it takes time to get back to where it was. Hopefully it continues to feel better by the time I get back on the supercross track next week.

UMC: Is this your first time out here at Cahuilla Creek MX? What do you think of it?

AT: It is my first time here. When I arrived, it felt unreal.You see the track from the road and it is the kind of track that you dream about. If you are a motocrosser, you can really appreciate this place. The way that they prep the track along with the amazing dirt makes it perfect.

UMC: Aside from having recently broken your wrist, are you happy to be racing the 250 East Region championship for your first year or would you have rather began racing on the west coast if you had not broken your wrist?

AT: The whole team normally does not know which coast they are racing. Mitch (Payton) makes the decision pretty late, so I did not know. I was just practicing as much as I could to get ready for whichever coast he wanted me to race. I think it is good for me to race east coast for my first year. I try not to think about it that much though. I am just going to ride and do my best.

UMC: What are your thoughts on the first two rounds so far in the 250 class?

AT: It was cool to watch the first race at Anaheim 1. It was my first time seeing a supercross race here in America. I had seen it on TV plenty of times before, but it is such a big show when you are there to see it in person. The racing is amazing and it is interesting to see all the people involved making it happen. It’s also very cool to see how many people were in the stands, which is great for the sport. All of the guys were riding very well too.

UMC: What is it having teammates such as Tyler Bowers, who is a multi-time arenacross champion and Chris Alldredge, who is coming off a successful amateur career?

AT: They have helped me on quite a few things. We all really help each other and have different styles of riding. I feel like our team is that much stronger because we help each other in practice. We try to ride with each other as much as possible when training. The first few times I went out to the track, I didn’t have much experience in the whoops. Luckily, Tyler is great at skimming them, so I was able to pick up on a few things just from watching him.

UMC: What is it like living full-time in the United States?

AT: It is great! I have really enjoyed the time I have spent here. I actually haven’t been here that much because after I broke my wrist, I went back to Europe. We just got settled in our new house, which is very nice. I feel much more comfortable now because nothing was really set in stone in the beginning, which made it hard to focus and do what I have to do. I am lucky to have a team like this behind me with a few different supercross tracks to practice at as well. That is great for me so that I can change it up. To be honest, I have not gotten to see the country very much because the majority of my time here is spent on the bike. The weather is so much different from Europe too. You can practice whenever you want and it is just so much easier than back home.