While arch rival Ryan Villopoto is circulating test and practice laps on the same continent MXGP World Champion Tony Cairoli began what will surely be a memorable 2015 racing campaign in suitable fashion by taking victory in the Elite class of the opening round of the Italian Championship last weekend at Riola Sardo.

The sandy track was home to some chilly temperatures and the 29-year-old Sicilian admitted there was still “work to do” after he lost the MX1 sprint to Honda’s Gautier Paulin and is also working his way back to full fitness after hurting his right knee in a massive crash last October at the Motocross of Nations.

“This type track is extremely technical and it is always nice to race here in the pre-season races,” #222 said. “The MX1 race was satisfactory, although perhaps because of the cold I drove a bit stiff and I finished second. I tried to win in the final [laps] but I made a small mistake at the decisive moment. Clearly there is still work to do but it is normal at the first race of the season.”


Cairoli won the Elite moto by almost thirty seconds later in the afternoon. “With the bike I am very well but I’m still suffering the after-effects of the small injury at the Motocross of Nations,” he commented. “I’m not 100 per cent yet but I’m fine and I’m aware of what I have to do to make the best conditions in Qatar.”

Cairoli is expected to line-up against more of his Grand Prix peers this weekend at Castiglione Del Lago for round two of the national series… but will not face Villopoto until the first Grand Prix in Qatar that already is starting to feel like the unmissable race of the season.