For the first time in six years Tony Cairoli had to watch somebody else celebrate a world championship win. At Assen last weekend the Sicilian was present to witness Yamaha’s Romain Febvre take his crown and be the first rookie champion in the premier class since Cairoli managed the feat in 2009 (also on a Yamaha).
The 29 year old Red Bull KTM rider never held the red plate at any time this season in a championship that was billed for months beforehand as a duel between ‘222’ and Ryan Villopoto. Cairoli did win two Grands Prix (Spain and Great Britain) after a shock switch to the 450SX-F and still heads the chart for Pole Positions with four; Febvre owns every other 2015 statistic.
Cairoli was typically gracious when it came to the performance of his rival. “He has been riding amazingly and has showed everybody some different races sometimes; when he pushes you can see the difference is some places,” he commented. “I would say he has made a really good step from last year, it is really impressive. He is the one that deserves the title because he is the most consistent and the fastest.”
Talk of Cairoli in his absence has revolved around the extra motivation he will carry into 2016 having been dethroned for the first time since that initial win at the end of the last decade. Publicly he has also spoken of his eagerness to start testing with the 450SX-F for next year and refining the bike further to his riding style and fast corner speed.
The former champ is likely to race at the Monster Energy U.S. Grand Prix in two weeks but has already been counted out of the Motocross of Nations for Team Italy seven days later. Their line-up of Samuele Bernardini, Ivo Monticelli and Michele Cervellin was announced at Assen last weekend with the explanation that the Italian Federation are blooding youth for future editions. It was a move that caused controversy with 2008 MX1 World Champion David Philippaerts but Cairoli admitted that he was doubtful of a slot before finding out his left arm fracture would not require surgery.”There was a time when ‘was I riding or not?’ and it was 90% looking like I’d have to get an operation,” he reveals. “I was speaking with the Federation and said I would not be ready for this race…which [is something] you should do at 100%. I will be riding