Tony Cairoli is now a nine-time world champion!

The undisputed best rider of his era in outdoor motocross, Cairoli rose from two injury-riddled seasons to reclaim the crown he lost in 2015, and took his world title tally to within one of Stefan Everts’ record-setting ten titles.

It is an incredible achievement to witness one of the greatest riders’ of all time in his prime and be there for some of his title winning celebrations, and as he threw his bike away in euphoric celebration at Assen, you knew you were witnessing one of the great moments in motocross history.

But even at that, Cairoli’s achievement’s will still probably only be fully appreciated in the fullness of time. The stats show just how dominant he has been over the last 13 season. Cairoli won his first world title in 2005, that means he has won nine titles in those 13 years, with injuries potentially costing him at least a couple more crowns!

But this 2017 title was special for Tony. To beat Jeffrey Herlings and the last two MXGP world champions, and even pull away from the 450 US National champ Eli Tomac at the USGP in Florida, means no one can deny that Cairoli, even in his 30s, is currently the best motocross rider in the world. He not only has the amazing raw speed when he needs it, but also the race smarts and championship poise to get the job done week-in, week-out.

The Italian legend was also in great form with the press at Assen, read what he had to say about his ninth world title and his competition here:

On winning his ninth world title:

It was really important for me because we didn’t start as favourite for sure from a lot of people talking around, this is for them! I know what I can work for and I know what it takes to do a consistent championship and I am really happy about this. It was an amazing season, I think one of my best. It is amazing I can still improve myself after 14 or 15 years of world championship. I am really proud of this and I think we can work still to be a bit better in some cases of the race.

But I want to enjoy this title. We had a very good weekend, the first moto was good the second moto could be better for sure. The pace was not a pace I could hold. On the third lap I pulled all my tear-offs, it was a rookie mistake. at one point it was completely scratched. I had to slow down. It’s ok because the championship was the most important thing for me and to take here in Holland with a lot of fans was very nice, the track was amazing even with the rain. It still worked out very technical and the organiser did a great job, nothing could be better.

How does it compare to the other championships?

It’s my first championship on the 450 (on a KTM), it’s very special because I get it with the 350 before and with the injuries I didn’t really have a chance to test with the 450. This was the first year I felt very good with the bike and also we improved in the winter, it was the first year without injuries so we could work on the bike and be consistent.

On people doubting him, and did it motivate him

It depends who said it! Sometimes they are not so smart, the people who really know can see the bigger picture the people who talk shit don’t really know about motocross (laughs).

On Herlings’ speed

For sure Jeffrey has proved he is one of the fastest in the world, even on the single lap, he is very, very fast. It sped it up a little bit more. For some it’s easier to follow, for some they can step up, I think this is the evolution of motocross the bikes are getting easier to ride, the middle riders can go faster because the bike permits a lot of stuff than more before where you needed more technique than just throttle, and now with the suspension evolution and the bike evolution it’s easier to go faster for more people.

On the prospect of the battle with Herlings motivating him during the last winter…

I think a lot of people are fast in the winter time, everybody is fast in the winter time because everyone is very motivated. I look to Jeffrey but also the other riders, they are also super-talented riders, you don’t get the championship just because you are lucky. Romain was good that’s why he won the championship also Tom, he was good and won the championship, so it is not only Jeffrey who is fast. But being consistent is very difficult.

Watch Cairoli clinch the title below:

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