Antonio Cairoli is tied for the series lead in the premier division, following the first round of nineteen, which is an impressive start. However, the way in which he got to that point was rather frustrating though. Cairoli is a class act though and still made time to discuss his day, including why he lost so much time to Jeffrey Herlings in that second moto. There was so much more to it than meets the eye.
MX Vice: Great day for you. You showed that you have still got it, which we all knew, but there are always people who doubt you. You lost that second moto though, so did Herlings catch you off-guard?
Antonio Cairoli: Yeah, for sure. I am pretty disappointed, because we had a good weekend. We won the qualification and then we won the first moto. In the second moto we had it in the pocket until ten minutes to go mostly and then I started to get some to some lappers. I was riding very good until that. I was even putting away good rhythm, good lines, then I get some lappers and I had to switch lines. I started to make some mistakes. I almost crashed twice. The track was very sketchy and the speed was very high from me and Jeffrey, so he took advantage of this and then he was coming closer and closer every lap.
In the last three or four laps, again I get some lappers and I was not liking some places that I found them. I had to slow down in the critical places and I lost a lot of seconds on the last three or four laps – he could come closer. When he was there I tried to hold on a little bit to try to switch lines. I passed him back and a few times we passed each other, but in the end he got it. It’s good for KTM but, for sure, for me it was pretty disappointing because I had the speed. I know the physical was also there, so it was more a stupid mistake. This is racing and this is part of the world championship.
Now we are tied in points, so this is good. We start from zero in Holland. We showed that we have on this track a different speed from the rest of the guys, which is good. But, on another side, which makes the championship a little bit between only me and him at the moment, so it’s fun because we respect each other. He is a great talent and a great champion. We also know each other on the track very good and we don’t do any stupid mistakes, so it’s nice to have such great battles.
With about six laps to go, you had a nine-second lead. At that point, did you think that you had the win in the bag and start to settle it down a little bit or were you always going at the highest intensity?
No, I was still pushing but, like I said, I changed lines and at some points I didn’t change back the lines, stupidly. I didn’t change back to my lines. I was losing every time seconds and also getting a little bit frustrated with some lappers, like it happened. He was riding better lines and he was pushing all the time, for sure. When you see somebody in front and you catch him a little bit, you get more motivation and more fast. He deserves this second moto win, of course, because he was faster, especially on the end, which was when I started making mistakes. This is motocross, like I said, and we are looking forward for the next one.
I guess that’s one of the hardest things about how you did today. In both motos you were out front from the beginning and were not following anyone. You didn’t get a chance to see any other lines that the guys were taking, any other options or what people were doing. So, when Herlings caught up to you, you didn’t really know what to expect.
Yeah – that is right also. When you are in front you don’t know exactly where people are winning or losing in the back of you. If you are passing riders where you are faster in some places. Fortunately in one side and unfortunately in the other, I was out in front so I just ride my lines all the time. I didn’t really know if they were the fastest. Maybe in some places, yes, but in some not. It was very important for me to stay healthy, because I know this track is not one of my best races. To come close to the win here is a really good day for me. Looking forward for the next one.
Yeah, I would guess this isn’t a great track for you. It’s so fast it doesn’t reward technical riders. You can’t really find a good line and show off your talent. Is that kind of how you feel?
Yeah, exactly. The track was pretty easy for everyone. It was just flat out on most of the track. I’m not really used to this kind of track, because they are not my favourite. I prefer a little bit slower tracks and more technical, which makes a little bit some difference within the riders. But, like I said, it was one of my best here. I was same speed as Jeffrey all the time, so this is good. This is what we work for and why we try to improve every year if it’s possible.
I guess you’re especially excited for Valkenswaard now, because what better way to get one back on him than on his home turf?
Yeah, for sure. I know in Valkenswaard he’s also very fast, because it’s a home race for him and he will be fully motivated. The championship is very long and our goal is to be on top in the end. For sure, these races are important but you need to stay also with the head clear and see where you can improve, when you can win and when not.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer