With the venue receiving a deluge of rain in the days preceding the event, the pair encountered soggy conditions that made an already technical track even harder to negotiate.
Still, Russian MXGP import Tonkov was quick to show he and his 2017 KX450F have searing speed by landing his second-consecutive Super Pole appearance, with an impressive fifth-fastest qualifying time.
In the opening MX1 race, Tonkov rounded the first turn in the top five and was circulating in sixth when he crashed at the midway point and bent his hand-guards into the handlebars, affecting his clutch. He still managed to soldier around the challenging track for seventh.
In the second moto, Tonkov grabbed another solid start and was pushing for third when he again crashed in the rutted, muddy conditions. He regrouped to cross the line in eighth place and eighth overall for the day.
“The track was definitely tough today and I showed I have good speed, but my mistakes cost me a lot,” Tonkov reflected. “In the first moto crash, my hand-guards bent into the bars and I was struggling on the uphills with the clutch being affected.
“In the second race I had a good start and tried to pass for third with a different line, but I had a big crash. It took a while to get going again, then I had another little crash and lost all the positions I’d regained. It was frustrating and I struggled all day, but I tried my best. Hopefully one day soon things come together and we can get on the box.”
Tonkov remains seventh in the championship, just nine points adrift of a top six placing.
Meanwhile, MEGA Bulk Fuels Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s break-out rookie phenomenon, Crawford, experienced a tough round, with a small crash midway through the opening race tweaking his already tender wrist. The incident forced the 19-year-old to withdraw from the day’s racing in an effort to preserve his wrist for next weekend’s fifth round.
“We were battling for sixth place, but I had a little crash and landed on my wrist again, so opted to sit out the rest of the race,” Crawford explained. “Race team manager Troy Carroll and I talked it out and decided it was best to sit out the next moto, especially as the track was so gnarly today.
“We’ll try to do whatever we can to get out on the track at Murray Bridge, I don’t want to let my team down, as they’ve put in so much work for me. Murray Bridge is one of my favourite tracks of the series, so hopefully we can regroup, have some fun out there, then rest my wrist for the second half of the championship.”
Crawford’s result at Horsham saw him move to ninth overall in the MX1 championship standings.
The fith round of the 2017 MX Nationals championship will be held at Murray Bridge, South Australia, on Sunday, 28 May. Further information on the 10-round series can be found on the official website at www.mxnationals.com.au.
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