Arnaud Tonus on Being The First to Race the All New 2018 YZ450F
Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Arnaud Tonus was the first and only rider to race the all-new 2018 YZ450F during the Czech, Belgian and Swiss Grands Prix. Despite only spending minimal time on the bike, the Swiss sensation has remained an incredible force within the world's most prestigious motocross series, MXGP, where he has gone from strength-to-strength on-board the all-new machine. His race win at the MXGP of Switzerland in August was the first of his career inside the premier class and is a testament to how good the all-new YZ450F is. With the 2018 YZ450F being completely overhauled and redesigned, we spoke to him about what influenced him to jump on a completely different bike in the middle of the season and how some of the most challenging aspects have been handled.
The all-new 2018 YZ450F was launched in July, and by the end of the month you were already racing it at the Czech Grand Prix. When did you first decide to race it?
In May, Louis had told me that we had the opportunity to race the new bike. Of course, I wanted to try it first. We were always optimistic but I wanted to test it first, so the week after the Grand Prix in Latvia I tried the standard 2018 YZ450F. I loved it straight away, I really loved the complete evolution of the bike, the chassis, the engine, everything that they had changed. It really feels like Yamaha has taken a big step forward. I decided then and there that we should go for it, so we took the opportunity and after that we just had to wait. I received the new bike just before Loket - MXGP of Czech Republic - and since then we have been testing and trying to make the bike race ready because it's a lot different than the 2017 bike.
Do you feel more comfortable on the 2018 YZ450F or did you choose to ride it with the vision of having the perfect bike for next season?
I chose to ride it for this season because I felt more comfortable right away. If you compare the standard '17 YZ450F to the '18, they are completely different bikes. The '18 is a big step forward, and I feel confident that it will be a really good bike. It's a really fun bike and I felt I perform better on this bike. It feels a lot lighter, and more playful. The only thing to consider was that we spent 6 or 7 months building the other bike, the '17 bike. We expected it to be a bit of a challenge to change to the 2018 bike right away, but like I said, I feel like the base of the bike is good and every time I ride it, we try new stuff and we take a step forward. It is also helping us grow for next year because you can test the bike in the winter, but there is nothing like racing it. So many times you test all winter and then you get to the first grand prix and the bike might not feel like it is where it needs to be because the tracks develop differently to the tracks we test on.
You raced the bike for the first time in Loket and you said you made some changes to the bike, can you talk about those changes?
We were mainly playing with the suspension, trying to find a good balance, changing the clamps and the height of the suspension and things like that. It's more to make the bike more comfortable for me, so small things, but things that make a huge difference. We made a huge difference between Saturday and Sunday.
Are there any parts that you are struggling with that you think need development?
No, I don't think there is anything negative. It's just taking the time to adjust to the bike and work on the finer details, and they're the really small things that might make a difference at the GP's.
Are you looking forward to 2018 knowing you are already testing your bike at Grand Prix level?
For sure, it's really positive. You can't get the same development in practice and during the winter. You can make a really good bike, but racing is something different, you just need time behind the gate and it's something that no one really gets the chance to do. But I am not really thinking about next year yet.Do you have any goals for next year? Yeah, I think with a strong winter, I can consistently fight for the podium. I have shown that I can do it, I just have to get there more consistently, but next year will be my second season on the 450 and I would have had more time to adapt.