Antonio Cairoli of the Red Bull KTM Factory team is without question the man of the moment in the MXGP class. Despite some resistance from 2015 and 2016 World motocross champion Tim Gajser, the Sicilian is keeping his cards close to his chest and doing enough to win GP after GP.
Now up to 88 GP wins, it is very possible that Cairoli not only equals Stefan Everts 10 World championships but passes the 101 GP wins by the Belgian legend. Of course, Jeffrey Herlings will be back in six weeks’ time, and with still a dozen GPs to follow, anything can and probably will happen.
We caught up with Cairoli after the race yesterday and talks about his victory and his shoulder problems.
Seems like the older you get the quicker you get. I wonder how quick you will be when you are 60?
Maybe they need to bring back the veterans GP so I can collect more titles. It is funny, but seriously, I enjoy riding still and this makes me happy.
You haven’t won here since 2014, but you scored your seventh GP win here, so your best track?
Yes, this one and also England, I have a couple of good tracks where I have good results in the past. Actually, this year, the track wasn’t as good as always, a lot of sketchy places and not really sandy, but it is okay, for the championship.
You have gone 1-1-1-2-1-1, you have never started a championship like this. That must make you very happy?
It is good, and I was well prepared, and I was prepared for a stronger year and one of my best preparations so far in my career and if you can have this type of preparation, with no injuries, that is perfect.
I can imagine you are excited to see Jeffrey back to see where you are at compared to last year?
Of course, I am excited, because he is the champion from last year and it is nice to have him on the track with all the other guys. Guys like Tim, and Clement, it is always nice to have somebody to mix it up with.
Trentino isn’t your favorite track, but you did have that one year where you were amazing, so you must look forward to seeing what will happen this year?
It is nice because it is in Italy, that is the only thing because it isn’t one of my favorite tracks and I can go fast there, but it is often a struggle.
Tim seems to be very close to you, there isn’t a lot in it. Do you feel the pressure from him?
Yes, for sure you can feel he is close. He is his best year I think so far, because his speed is high, compared to last year because he was struggling with injuries and stuff.
How is the injury now?
It isn’t an injury, just a bad feeling and I ride the bike stiff and get arm pump straight away and I can’t lift my shoulder so good, but overall, I am happy in the sand. The track is sketchy and when you land you have to really hold on, and that is where I had the biggest problem. I am happy going into Trentino with three wins and I will try and relax for Italy. So many people coming, it will be a good race.
You didn’t look like you are carrying an injury as you rode really well?
I know in the sand it is easier in one way for me, to make some good laps and stay more focused because I like this track and have good memories, but Tim is very fast at the moment and it is nice to have such a high rhythm, for the fans and everyone. Hopefully Clement is also getting better and other people are mixing in. Next week is hard pack and not my favorite soul, but we try our best.
How was your preparation with the shoulder problem?
Actually, my shoulder isn’t much better, I struggled all week, I rode, but it didn’t feel 100%. On Saturday I felt better in timed practice and free practice, but in the qualification race my shoulder got tired and I couldn’t ride how I want, aggressive or whatever, so I slowed down and tried to save some energy for tomorrow. The track is very demanding, a lot of jumps and higher than normal and you land harder and spend energy. Also, a bad start passing was easier.
What was the difference from Matterley and here as far as the shoulder goes?
Last week in some places you could relax, but in Valkenswaard my shoulder is always tense, and I felt worse in the qualification race, after about 15 or 20 minutes I felt more free. The start isn’t important at this track, you can ride on the sand and if you are good enough and fit enough, you can go for the win, so the start isn’t that important.
Your home GP next weekend. How will you lead into this event?
I won’t do anything different (for Trentino), a lot of media stuff to do, it is good, but also takes my time away from preparing and I try and focus, but it is difficult because I can’t walk the track or things like that.
Ray Archer images