Tony Cairoli showed the world yet again that he is still the king of motocross after beating Jeffrey Herlings in two tough duels for the lead on an incredibly rough sand track in front of the fanatical Italian fans in brutal heat and humidity.
Cairoli is 31 years old but stuck the heat better than any of his rivals, and showed he has the pace of Herlings in the sand when he needs it! Cairoli is a living legend and is without doubt the best motocross rider of his generation and, as he heads towards his ninth world title, must now be considered one of the greatest of all-time alongside Stefan Everts and Ricky Carmichael.
After two years of injury Cairoli is back to his best and maybe even better than he has ever been as he stepped up to the challenge Herlings gave him in the sand.
Cairoli spoke at length in the press conference about his day including that memorable battle with teammate Herlings that will go down in folklore.
Winning the GP
It was very good, it was very nice to win at home but it is always tough, people tell me ‘we come for you, need to need to win.’ So it’s not easy but we made it (won) two times this year at the home GPs, so I am really happy about that.
I’m also happy because a lot of people for the last two years said, ‘Cairoli is finished,’ and we see on this track that is very tough, people who are 12 or 13 years younger than me there are still in the back, I’m really happy about that. I’m not just telling you this because I want to but I know myself I was struggling the last two years with many injuries. This year I feel good, but I am not always there to win, I am there for the championship and sometimes it’s good to finish second, third or fourth.
But for the home GP it is always very nice to win, so I did my best, I did 100% and gave everything I had, we made a really good race. I am very happy everybody (fans) still come for me after 13 or 14 years, that’s amazing, I am glad I still have a lot of fans and the motocross is still growing a lot in Italy, that is what we are working for.
I had the sand king on the back of me! We tried to keep him in the back, maybe he was faster in some places but you know we work on the 35 minutes race and in the end we beat him. I’m looking only to myself, only to my race and the championship. I didn’t want to take too many risks, I was riding very good and carefully. The team worked very good with the bike, the team is very good with developing the bike and we test a lot of parts every week.
He was very fast. In the beginning of the race he was revving in the corners to let me know he was inside. But you know, I have some experience and I don’t really care about that. I was just waiting for his pass and then I go him back immediately. I have to say it was a fun race to fight with him. We are both very clean riders and to make that race for the public I think was very exciting.
I was trying to see what lines he had but more or less we had the same lines, compared to the first moto, afterthe pit lane he had a batter line that, in the second moto I switched to his line and it was a bit better. In the second moto when he passed me then I rest a little bit and look to see if he had some batter lines, but he didn’t have such different ones so I tried to push again a little bit more and then I passed him. I think he was a little bit tired and he dropped back.
A lack of mainstream MXGP media coverage in Italy
There is much following by the fans but on the radio and everything they only talk about sports where there is a lot of money involved, like Formula 1 where there is not even one Italian driver. in MotoGP ok there is Rossi and Dovi but there is also motocross. I have tried to do a lot for motocross in the last ten or fifteen years and if we cannot reach them now then I don’t know what to do anymore, I did my best.