Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli has hinted he will be a stronger force on the works 450SX-F this year even though his recent rib injury will cause him to miss final key test dates in the three round Italian Championship starting this weekend.
The 30-year-old Sicilian is going through a 10 day convalescence period to recover from two fractured bones and the loss of race time for what is expected to be the first two Italian fixtures is a disruption in the final stages of his prep for 2016 and the opening MXGP on February 27 in Qatar.
Cairoli had already begun 2016 tests at the final Grand Prix of 2015 in the USA and has worked further around Team Manager Claudio De Carli’s Rome-based workshop as well as on the island of Sardinia in recent weeks.
The former champion switched from his serial-title winning 350SX-F after round five of the ’15 campaign and immediately won GPs in Spain and the UK before breaking his arm in qualification for the Italian fixture at Maggiora.
“The plan was to test some more in the Italian championship races so we still had some things to do but I’m happy with the bike and it is very different to the 450 I had last year,” he claims. “That bike had been developed around Ken [De Dycker, former team-mate] so there was only so much we could do.”
As with most of his peers at this stage of the year, it sounds as if Cairoli only has to refine his race-bike in the month remaining until the season starts. “The power was already okay and the bike was easier for me to ride but we were working with suspension a little bit because the whole set-up has to be right on the 450,” he asserts.
Despite the recent adversity after falling in Sardinia Cairoli believes that MXGP fans will still see the distinctive #222 in action around the Losail leaps. “It is a bit of a difficult injury because you are always moving the ribs but it is not too bad and I can still do some activities,” he says. “The risk is through riding and maybe crashing again. So I have to wait… but I am not worried about Qatar even if losing 10 days is not the best.”