MXLarge

Antonio Cairoli interview

Legends of the sport always have something special, a determination to never give up, and make sure their last years racing are not wasted. Believe in themselves when nearly everyone else figures its over.

I still remember back in 2014, at the Grand Prix of Latvia when Antonio Cairoli talked about still having his best years ahead of him. With injuries and disappointment in 2015 and 2016, many, myself included figured that those words in Latvia were hollow, and it was just a wish the Sicilian had, but it wasn’t reality.

Legends of the sport are also very proud men, but surprisingly Cairoli isn’t bothered what people think, or say, at least not the people not close to him. His two years of waiting for his form to return were not spent worrying about what I might have said, or any other media. Instead it was spent getting his body back to 100%, and building the confidence. He knew it was coming, while most of us figured his title run was over.

Now as we prepare to head to the Losail circuit in Doha, Qatar, the veteran of more than a decade at the top probably goes into this opening round as the favourite to win it. Who would have thought that six months ago.

While I was excited for the new era, the era that we have seen for the past two years. Some fresh blood so to speak, with Gajser, Herlings and Febvre up front, I am also happy to see one of the greatest Grand Prix riders of all time once again stand tall, and come into a new season as the man to beat.

We caught up with Antonio, and he was kind enough to answer our questions about his pre-season, his fitness, and his rivals, both young and old.

MXLarge: Antonio, the season has started perfect for you. How does it feel to be back to 100%?

Cairoli: You know I’m really happy because it’s been since the winter 2014 that I’ve not be so good. I feel good with myself and with the bike and I’m enjoying every day of theirs winter preparation.

MXlarge: Can you explain for me those three races in Italy?

Cairoli: We started in Sardinia with the sandy track of Riola and I won both moto’s, than in Malagrotta, which is my home track I won the first race quite easy but in the second I’ve slipped down and I had to recover from 5th to first place. It’s been tough but I was happy with my race. In Ottobiano Jeremy managed to win the first heat but in the second one I was faster and I won again the fifth moto on six.

MXarge: How do you feel compared to maybe in 2013 and 2014, when you were also fit?

Cairoli: Similar, I’ve founded back the good feeling with the bike, which I never had with the 450 before. Now I feel one only thing with the bike and I have way better sensations.

MXlarge: How does it compare for you entering 2017, with so many good riders. Is it just as exciting as 2015 when Villopoto came?

Cairoli: 2017 it’s a very competitive challenge, many good riders in good conditions, it will just be great…

MXlarge: You have signed with Answer clothing. A big American company. How is that for you?

Cairoli: It’s cool, they make cool stuff and I like the way they work even if we are just at the beginning.

MXlarge: What about your rivals, the young guns. Gajser, Febvre, Herlings. What do you expect from these guys in 2017?

Cairoli: To be fast and very competitive, they all already won one or more titles, so that know how to manage with that, I just have more experience…

MXlarge: And your old rivals, Desalle, Van Horebeek, Paulin, Nagl. All have started the season strong. Does that surprise you at all?

Cairoli: Not at all, they all are good riders, Jeremy was super-fast and competitive and it was a pleasure to deal with him on team…

MXarge: I know you don’t care too much what other people think, but many doubted this was possible, a return to this type of form. Does it feel rewarding to show us all that we were wrong?

Cairoli: Not at all, I knew that that wasn’t my level and that I just couldn’t train because I was injured. I don’t care so much about what people think or say about me, I mean, apart from the people that are part of my life.

MXLarge: Not winning for two years, a title I mean, how important is it for you to return to the very top of the MXGP class?

Cairoli: Very important but mostly because I feel good and I’m out of injuries. Suffering and riding with pain when you know that you can’t give 100% of yourself it’s frustrating.

MXlarge: What changed have you had to the bike, and will you stick to 450 or go to 350?

Cairoli: I will stay with the 450, this bike is now fitting to me perfectly. We have worked a lot and now I trust the bike and I can ride as I want.

MXlarge: What is your goal in Qatar?

Cairoli: The same every time I go to the gate, give my best, and to be on the podium.

MXlarge: You have always been consistent, not always the fastest, but always in the points. Is that going to once again be the most important aspect of 2017?

Cairoli: Consistence will be really important, like always. The championship is so long that you cannot be always the fastest, so better Robbie always competitive and consistent.

MXlarge: Who do you think might surprise the most people from the MXGP class in 2017?

Cairoli: I’m sure that Jeffrey can be a top runner at every races, with him, Glen and myself we have a very good team.

MXlarge: Last question. MX2, full of very good young talent. Will you enjoy watching this in 2017?

Cairoli: Sure, I like to watch the young riders, since the smallest categories, they represent the future of our sport.

Ray Archer images