After back to back victories in Germany and Italy it seemed that Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli was beginning to make his presence felt in the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship but a combination of bad starts and crashes in Spain and France in the past few weeks have left the multi champion still searching for competitiveness.
Cairoli led the first moto at St Jean d’Angely but was passed by both Romain Febvre and Tim Gajser – the two athletes setting the pace at the top of the MXGP standings and the only other riders to taste GP success this year – and was more than 30 seconds adrift of the duo by the chequered flag.
“At the moment I don’t have the speed to follow the first two guys but if I get a good start then I can follow my rhythm and I can handle it pretty good if I have the lead but it has been two GPs now…[without a podium],” said the Sicilian.
Cairoli has needed more than half the season to recover effectively from the pre-season crash that affected his neck, back and ribs, and nerve damage around his shoulder has meant a slow return to the kind of form that used to obliterate the premier class.
“My condition is good at the moment and I’m getting stronger and stronger,” he said exclusively. “I am just missing a bit of aggression and believing [in himself] more in the early part of the race. I need to match their [Febvre and Gajser] high rhythm at the beginning of the race. I’m also struggling in the Timed Practice to find the right lap. I’m always outside the top 10 and it doesn’t help for the race. I need to work a bit more on my speed and it is important to find confidence in Timed Practice.”
With eight Grands Prix and 16 motos still to come and with tracks that #222 could favour like sand in Lommel and Assen as well as another home round in Mantova then Cairoli is by no means out of the title dispute as he sits third and 60 points behind rookie Gajser who has yet to miss a Grand Prix podium ceremony this season.
“This is not the way to win the title,” Cairoli remarked on his inconsistent results – something that had been the bedrock of his six world crowns in MXGP/MX1 “but it is more important for me to find my old speed and riding style and rhythm. I’m not thinking about the championship at the moment and it’s a pity because I was coming closer and closer and we have lost some points again. There are still some races to go.”