MXGP World Champion Tony Cairoli has had a busy off-season period where testing on 2016 factory Red Bull KTM machinery has been fitted around movie premieres, EICMA show appearances, sponsor commitments and even last weekend’s Monza Rally.

New team-mate Tommy Searle spent almost a month in Rome getting to know the largely Italian collective with whom he will tackle the 2015 FIM series and Cairoli also made laps on the ’16 production material in the same period. Now, for the first time since he joined KTM in 2010, Cairoli could use a 450SX-F in his quest for a seventh successive crown in the premier class.

The 29 year old, who will race SX-F technology for the next two seasons at least, still has more work to do on the works team’s motorcycles for 2016 but is allegedly closer to choosing the larger bore. “We are still testing the 2016 bikes but I haven’t decided yet,” was all he could offer on Monday.


Cairoli ritually assesses KTM’s 350 and 450 bikes during the off-season but has preferred the lighter, more nimble 350 since signing with the Austrians during the latter half of the 2009 campaign when it was heavily rumoured he won with a 400cc De Carli Yamaha.

There could be several reasons for Cairoli to consider a switch. The first is the overhaul of the 350SX-F with the pre-production material and how it compares against the new 450; the Sicilian might prefer the refreshed potential of the bigger engine. The second is the search for a new challenge after five championships with the same bike.

The third comes through the presence of Searle who will almost certainly run the 350SX-F (and who fared well on the KX250F Kawasaki at the Motocross of Nations compared to two seasons of little joy with the 450 in MXGP) while Ken De Dycker fits his large frame on the 450 leaving Cairoli free to choose. The last is the inclusion of Ryan Villopoto in MXGP for 2015 and perhaps Cairoli feels that the 450 would be a better and easier all-round package for the circuits that will constitute the 2015 campaign.

Expect to see a decision one way or the other by the end of January when #222 will undertake his first race of the year and the first round of three in the Italian Championship at Riola Sardo in Sardinia.