The opening MX1 moto was also full of drama with De Dycker crashing in the early stages after being hit by the wheel of Clement Desalle’s bike.
But Cairoli took the holeshot and led for the opening laps before being passed by Gautier Paulin. The two riders then engaged in a cat and mouse game that lasted right up to the final lap. With Desalle in third place, Cairoli knew he needed to go for the win and spectators at the Portuguese circuit were expecting one of his classic last lap attacks.
Just as he was setting himself up to pass, he changed lines into a new rut and hit a large concealed stone. Cairoli flew over the handlebars and had to scramble back up the slope to retrieve his KTM, only to discover that his clutch lever and front brake were wrecked in the spill.
In the meantime Desalle had shot past to take second but the Italian managed to still bring the bike home in third carrying the broken cable in his hand. Still able to raise a smile, Cairoli said at the end of the moto: “It was a big crash but luckily I’m not hurt. I’ve never had anything like that happen before.”