Red Bull KTM Factory rider Antonio Cairoli is special, we all know that, and his statistics remind us time and time again. Funnily enough, the Italian legend isn’t like Stefan Everts or Jeffrey Herlings and have goals for breaking records, he just goes out, has fun and tries to win on a daily basis. That mentality works for him, and when he took his 87th GP victory at Matterley Basin last weekend, he did it using his brain and waiting for his biggest rival at the moment, Tim Gajser to make a mistake.
Cairoli might not have gone 1-1 as he did in Argentina a few weeks ago, but for the KTM man, a win is a win, and the points lead in the MXGP championship is his main goal. We talked to him about his weekend.
You just keep winning, now 87 GP wins. Do you still not count your GP wins?
No, I didn’t know until somebody just told me.
You always ride smart, you don’t win nine championships without being smart, and in that first moto Tim just took off and you didn’t try and follow him, you could see you were not pushing really hard. Did you think it was too sketchy to push that hard that early?
I know Tim is fast this year, he stepped it up this year and he is more consistent and faster in each lap. You could see in the second moto, we pulled well away from the rest big time. I think he is going fast and of course, I also didn’t feel 100% coming into this race with this shoulder and neck problem and I don’t want to risk something. I know he was fast at this track and he passed me quickly and I was struggling in the first 20 minutes. It wasn’t good for me, but overall, we are happy with another GP win and stretch the lead.
I know you probably are happy to win the GP and not win the second moto, but you are a winner and not beating Tim in that second moto just have hurt?
Yes, I don’t want to finish second, when somebody beats you there is something burning and this keeps me riding, because if I don’t have this, then I am not thinking correct to be a racer. You must care about the racing and not just be here for the money. I want to improve and be better.
Last year we all said, and you said it yourself, you were riding better than ever, and obviously Jeffrey helped you get to that level. Where are you now compared to last year?
I am better prepared this year; my endurance is better. Tim is faster than last year, so we will never know until we have Jeffrey back to his best level, then we will know the situation. What we showed in that second moto is what we showed all last year fighting with Jeffrey. The speed is good, the level is high, and the crash can be there any second on this speed and we saw that with Tim in that first moto and in a second, he was on the ground and he went down hard.
I can imagine you actually miss Jeffrey not being here. You have prepared with the endurance improvement and fighting with him was special for everyone last year. Until you hurt your hand last year you two were very close in speed.
Of course, it is always nice to have him here. It keeps you focused, and not just me but all the riders. I don’t know the level this year and we can’t talk about this until he is back. At the moment we must adjust who is the challenger at each Grand Prix and I am really focusing on this.
You seem to be having a bit of trouble with the bike control this year like you are moving around different on the bike. Is the bike a lot different this year than last year?
No, this race was a struggle for me. I had arm pump from the start until about 20 minutes, because of my neck and shoulder. I couldn’t ride and you probably saw some insecure riding and for sure next week in Holland I will solve this problem and the next two weeks I will be better.
How did you hurt your neck, sleeping or you had a crash?
I had a little crash and over jumped in the sand and I had a compression on my neck and back and squeezed some muscles in my shoulder blades. It wasn’t a problem in the week, but it built up and when I was here yesterday, I had some therapy on it, I wasn’t feeling 100% and in Belgium, we were riding, and it was muddy and slow riding and here it was very fast. When I woke up on Sunday morning I didn’t feel well, and my physio guy fixed it a little and we could race.
You have won at Matterley six times, and six times at Valkenswaard. Those two tracks are your best from memory. Do you know any stats from where you have won the most?
I don’t know. I didn’t even know how many GPs I have won, and you want me to know how many GPs I win at this track (laughing).
So, you don’t know how many you have won here, well its six times and six in Valkenswaard. Do you know how many World titles you have?
Yes, of course, because it isn’t so many, just nine, so I can remember that easy.
Well, six times at Matterley, so it must be one of your favorite tracks?
Probably, yes. I like the British fans and I like this track. I like the passion here and the people understand a lot about the sport and always fast riders from England, like Tommy Searle and we are friends. Also, the tracks in England are some of the best in Europe.
Ray Archer images