Over the last two seasons, only one man has
Racer X: Well done on your first GP win and taking the
been able to wrestle the MX2 World Cham-
pionship leader’s red plate from current champ
Jeffrey Herlings, and that’s Swiss rider Arnaud Tonus.
When Herlings missed the 2014 Brazilian GP with an in-
jury, the 22-year-old Swiss Kawasaki rider stepped up to
take an emotional first moto win, and with it the cham-
pionship lead. Two weeks later at in Italy, with Herlings
back and on form, Tonus hounded the Dutch teenager
and was able to retain the precious red plate.
lead in the series. It’s been a long time coming, though.
Arnaud Tonus: Yes, definitely! My dad, Jean-Charles,
used to race GPs, so he gave me the motocross virus.
I was French and Swiss champion when I was young,
riding 85s, but never won the European or World Junior
Championships. I wasn’t such a big star, so when I
started GPs in 2009, I was on a privateer KTM team.
But you obviously attracted the attention of the fac-
tory Suzuki team.
I was teamed up with Ken Roczen on Suzukis, and I
learned a lot from him. We were really close and still are.
He’s a good guy and we spent a lot of time together. It
was a lot of fun, and riding with him was awesome too.
After that I signed for the British Cosworth Yamaha team
for two years. The first year was pretty good, as I got fifth
in the world championship and won the British series.
When was the last time a Swiss rider led a world
I don’t think there has ever been a Swiss rider that’s led
a major world championship like MX2 or MXGP. There
was Philippe Dupasquier who had a few podiums and
was battling for the 125 championship in 2002. Julian
Bill was good and won the world MX3 championship,
but nobody has won in the premier classes.
When you won in Brazil, you gave thanks to former
world champion, the late Georges Jobe.
He was a big part of my life. He was a good friend with
my dad and was always very close to me. We had such a
great relationship, and I lived at his house for two years.
He was my coach and was almost like a dad to me. It
was really intense the way he was with me and really involved. I finished the race in Brazil and I felt like it was for
Georges. I immediately thought of him, which was very
cool. When Georges was alive, I came close to winning a
GP in the past, but it didn’t happen. And it finally did this
year. It’s the work we did together that really is paying off.
You’re such a smooth rider—people often compare
you to Stefan Everts.
It may look like I’m smooth from the outside, but I
always feel like I’m pushing at 100 percent. It looks like
I’m not trying, but that’s my style and I always ride like
that. I can’t really compare myself to Everts, as he’s
the greatest, but I think my riding style is a lot like his.
I’m often up on the footpegs, which I learned at a very
early age and have always stuck with it. My smooth
riding is also part of my personality, as I’m quite quiet
and thoughtful. So maybe on a bike I’m like that. I’ve
always been natural.
You had some issues in the past with Jeffrey
Herlings when he wiped you out at the French GP.
How’s your relationship with him now?
I try not to focus on what happened then. I don’t really
care if it’s Jeffrey or another rider in front; I want to
pass them, as I want to win. I think I can beat Herlings,
though. To beat him I have to be the very best I can
be and every part of my riding has to be right. I need a
good start and to be on top of my game.
Next year you will be too old to race MX2 GPs, so do
you have any plans yet?
I am trying to stay focused on keeping the red plate
rather than worrying about what I might do in future, but
I’m very open at the moment. I’m not sure if I’d like to
go to the USA or stay in GPs on a 450.
FIVE MINUTES WITH
ARNAUD TONUS: SWISS FRONT-RUNNER