MXGP rivals Tony Cairoli and Clement Desalle have not found much common ground over the years since they have been fighting for title in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
In fact since 2009 there has even been some clashes, with the KTM rider criticising Desalle’s hard on-track tactics and the Belgian refusing to give Cairoli an inch purely because of his status and success.
Last weekend at the British Grand Prix however Desalle spoke openly of the emotional strain his opponent must be going through after the sudden loss of his father a week before the eighth round of the series.
The Rockstar Suzuki representative had experienced similar despair through the loss of his aunt and grandfather in 2012 (actually in the lead-up to the same event at Matterley Basin). “I understand his feeling and it is really difficult,” Desalle commented. “I have had similar experiences and you can think too much. It is really sad. Sometimes life is very hard.”
Cairoli described the last fortnight as “the hardest time anybody can have” but after losing four nights of sleep and being unable to train still earned victory, with a ‘Ciao Benny’ butt patch on his riding gear and black colours by way of dedication. Before the races on Sunday Desalle was asked what kind of reaction Cairoli’s bereavement might have on his performance. “Everybody is different with a different lifestyle,” he replied. “I cannot say how other people might react in the circumstances.”
The answer arrived on Sunday when Cairoli gave his father, Benedetto, a fitting send-off with his 68th career triumph and extended his championship lead over Desalle.