The 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship has been rather kind to Antonio Cairoli so far, even though he is fighting a neck and shoulder problem currently. Cairoli jumped on the top step of the box at Valkenswaard, maintaining his perfect record this season, and extended his series lead significantly. Was his Dutch outing as uneventful as it looked? That is broken down in this exclusive interview from the sandy circuit.
MX Vice: Another 1-1 today. Your first Valkenswaard overall victory since 2014, so that is nice, and all in all it was kind of an uneventful day. You just went about your business. It worked out. You did not really have to push your limits. Kind of one of the days you would want, I guess.
Antonio Cairoli: Yeah. The week was not really one of the best, because I thought I was going to rest a little bit and then we had something to test, so I could not really avoid this training. I did not really feel well during this training, so I was not really happy to race in the sand after this problem, but eventually we arrived here. I took some medicines, had some therapy and it was actually a little bit better. Yesterday was a little bit tougher than today, of course. Today was a little bit better, because I was warm from yesterday still.
Anyway, it was enough. You do not need to win with a lot of seconds in front to take fifty points. I was controlling both motos. A good start in the first moto following [Max] Anstie. He was quite good in the opening laps and then he made a crash. I followed for a couple of laps, then he crashed so I passed him. I tried to keep this gap to [Clement] Desalle by controlling the race. The second moto again: I had a good start and I did not want somebody to pass me like in the first moto, so I tried to push a little bit more the first three or four laps. It worked out.
I saw that Tim [Gajser] was in the back and I could keep the same gap all the time and try to control him. I saw that the last two laps, with some lappers, he was getting a little bit closer, but fortunately for me I had a good last lap and I could stay in front and take the fifty points.
You mentioned you tested something this week so, as much as you can tell us, what was that? If you cannot say that, what area of the bike does it help?
Yeah, we are testing a lot the suspension. Especially for this track we saw that we have something to improve a little bit, because it is quite hard. It is not really sandy. We were prepared to come a little bit to a sandy track, then I saw the weather and I had a couple of trainings during the week. We struggled a little bit with some settings and then in the end we actually had a very good set-up.
I am really happy about the bike, but the problem was mostly about my feeling with the shoulder and not riding as smooth as I always do in the sand. For the bike it was also not really helping. I really had to not change too much on the bike and just see that I get a little better, then we test when we are a little bit on a stronger condition.
Do you actually think that your shoulder and neck has gotten worse since last week? Is riding not helping the situation?
No. Actually the doctor tells me that it was better if I did not ride, but we had this plan already and I had to ride. Even if I did not really ride much, I still had some struggles. Not really the first day, which was feeling already okay, but the second day I feel a little bit that was getting stiffer. We interrupted the training a little bit earlier and then hoped that with two days of rest it would be better.
Actually, it was not like this. Saturday was worse than Sunday. I think we need to let it work a little bit more and try to build up again the muscle, because I used it on the wrong way already before England and already here this week. I just need to rest I think now, one or two days more and then, okay, we are riding hard-pack so it should not be that big a problem next week. We are looking forward for Arco.
You mentioned the second moto. I think for a lot of the race your gap over Tim was three seconds. If you look at that on paper, you think that is a close race. Watching you though, I kind of did not get excited that there was a battle coming at all. I just felt like you had it under control, so you could have gone faster if you needed to. I guess you just felt exactly the same way?
Yeah. I knew that Tim was pushing a lot. They put that on the board also, to try to be consistent with the lap times. That is what I did. I was not on the limit, because you can see it from the riding. I was really trying to not make mistakes and stay on the bike, even if I had to push some sections a little bit more. I was quite controlling the race. Last two laps with some lappers he got a little bit closer, especially in the last lap, but I was still in control so far. I was happy with how we managed the second moto.
What about the track? A weird Valkenswaard. I have never seen it like this even when I was younger watching it on TV. Hard, fast and sketchy in spots.
Yeah, exactly. It is not really a sandy race, actually. It was more like just soft dirt and not really close to a sand technique to ride. That is why a lot of people also… I think the racing was a little bit closer, because it was easier in one way to go fast and you do not get tired like you do in your back when you have to stand for all of the lap when you are riding in the proper sand. Valkenswaard was like it last year, with the rain and the cold there were a lot of ruts everywhere.
This, I think, was the most difficult Valkenswaard I have ever seen. This year it was better in one way, because for the fans you have more racing and it is nicer, but for a sand lover like me it is not really a typical track. You can also see the standings in MX2 were not so far at all, even with Jorge [Prado] who is one of the best sand riders ever.
Was there actually anywhere on the track where you felt like you could make a difference then? A little area that was quite technical?
Yeah, actually, I felt that I could make some difference where it was a little bit sandier, especially at the end of the first section. In the third section, which was the waves section and the jumps, I could still push a little bit. I saw, when watching Tim, that I could gain a little bit in this part, but he was really pushing a lot. I was trying to control it more to not come too close and not make stupid things.
Finally, in the week before Trentino, are you going to ride as normal or test as normal? Are you going to try and give the shoulder and neck a bit of a break?
No. Actually I am going to ride, I think only on Wednesday, because I have been here in Belgium already for almost twenty days, so I do not ride any hard-pack yet. I have been riding a lot of ruts and a lot of rain all of the time. I think I am going to ride a little bit of hard-pack on Wednesday, just to get back the feeling with this soil, then I have a lot of appointments during this week with radio and TV. I am really happy about this, because I always work a lot to bring in Italy a lot more popularity to the sport.