The lengthy trip to Orlyonok, Russia, was completed by the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP team this past weekend, as the hard-pack track hosted round eight of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship. Both Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus had fond memories of the track that sits alongside the Black Sea, so hopes were high heading into the weekend.
Arnaud Tonus was riding a wave of momentum going into the Grand Prix of Russia, as he had back-to-back podium finishes in Portugal and France, and then enjoyed a steady qualifying race at Orlyonok on Saturday. The ninth place that he secured in the heat set him up well for the two points-paying motos. The power in his YZ450F left him inside of the top three at the beginning of the first race, but he moved into second quite quickly and maintained that position until the chequered flag waved.
The second moto followed a similar pattern for Arnaud Tonus, as he started in third and moved into second within the first few laps. Tonus was not content with that though and made multiple attempts to get around the leader. An untimely crash halted that charge, unfortunately, but he still got up and took another second place to secure second overall on the day, his third podium finish in succession. Tonus is still seventh in the championship standings, but just six measly points separate him from a spot inside of the top five.
It seemed as though Gautier Paulin was going to be a contender for a spot up on the box, as he set a couple of blistering lap times in the practice sessions on Saturday and took third in the qualifying heat. A very hard crash in moto one left him with no choice but to withdraw, sadly, but he still hit the track to salvage points in the second moto and claimed eighth for fourteenth overall on the day. Paulin still sits third in the championship standings heading into round nine of eighteen next weekend.
The Grand Prix of Latvia, held at the sandy circuit of Kegums, will act as that ninth round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship next weekend, so there is no time to rest for the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP crew.
Arnaud Tonus: “It was not easy to fight for the lead. I was happy I had some good starts so at the beginning I was already close to Tim [Gajser]. There were not too many opportunities to pass on this track, so I came close, and I went for it, but I ended up making a small mistake. I am happy I tried and was able to recover and still finish second. I am still super thankful to be up here on the podium three times in a row.”
Gautier Paulin: “I had a good Saturday fighting up front. I really felt at my best. In warm up this morning I was feeling good on the bike. I did not have a good start in the first race, but I came through really quickly until I washed the rear-end on one of the jumps and had a big one. It was a really big crash – I hurt my hands a little bit. I came back in the second race and just rode my race. I did not feel good, but I will be back in Latvia and healthier than I am now.”