After visa issues threatened his racing career in Europe, Aleksandr Tonkov has found a landing spot in Australia, where he will compete in the MX1 class for MEGA Bulk Fuels/Monster Energy Kawasaki.
With another year remaining on his contract with Yamaha Motor Europe, Tonkov, who turned 23 this year, was expected to move up to the MXGP class in 2017 with Wilvo Yamaha. But problems arose for the Russian born Tonkov after visiting Prague with friends. Tonkov, who was recovering from injury at the time, then flew back to Russia to visit family but, upon returning to Belgium, was sent back to Russia due to what Tonkov says was a “wrong stamp in my passport.” According to Tonkov, the problem started back in June, and it could be up to two years before he’s allowed back in Europe. He is allowed to travel to Australia and the United States.
“I just wanted to pass the airport and go back home. It is not something that I can do—it is just a stamp. I am just a guy who rides a bike, you know! It is not my business to do the stamps,” he told MX Vice. “I just wanted to go back home. It was not like I had the wrong documents or anything; I had nothing to do with that. It was not a problem with my documents, but my stamp. They think it is something that I made myself. How can I do that if I am riding my bike? It is kind of bullsh*t.
“We cannot explain it to these people. I am trying, but they look at it and say that it is not real. They said that I have to go back to Russia and if I can fix the problem, then I’m lucky, but if not I have to live inside Russia for the next few years. China, America or something like that does not matter, but I cannot do it in the European Union.”
In November, he spoke at length about the situation with MX Vice. You can read the full interview here.
Tonkov will make his debut in Australia this weekend at the opening round of the 2017 Motul MX Nationals at Wonthaggi.
MotoOnline.com.au spoke to Tokov this afternoon. “It’s exciting, for sure. We’re driving right now and I’m looking left and right, just to see, because it’s like a different world. But in the end, it’s the same thing and we have the same goals. It’s a different championship after racing GPs, new riders and new people around. It’s interesting to see and to learn.”
You can read more about the recent news on MotoOnline.com.au.