Since 2009, his maiden season on the bigger 450F, Antonio Cairoli has been the best man in the premier class each year. However, at the same time, he has also been lucky to avoid the injury bug and has benefitted from the injuries that others have sustained. For this reason, most felt Cairoli was ‘due’ some bad luck this year – that unfortunately turned out to be true.
Antonio showed just how big his heart and desire is, something that he has had in reserve this whole time but not had to show, by fighting through the excruciating pain of the injuries sustained at his home GP in June. There have been many ups and downs since then, a third in Uddevalla and pair of fourths in Kegums being the highlights, but the pain has been constant. In fact, there were already reports of him calling it a day on the Saturday in Latvia. In an exclusive MX Vice interview at the end of the weekend, it was clear things weren’t improving as he would have liked.
Following a collision with David Philippaerts in Sweden, the fracture had moved and his doctor wasn’t exactly thrilled that the Sicilian was planning to ride. Antonio, at the same time, was unhappy with the amount of painkillers and injections he had to take – it obviously took a considerable amount to aid him. He actually tried to ride without them in practice at the Latvian GP and couldn’t manage a lap, which should give you an idea of what he was dealing with.
Still, and perhaps it was just a front for the media, he was talking about the upcoming GPs and how he was confident that anything could happen in the coming weeks. That was something he never let go of and also why giving up on his title hopes must have been more painful than any injury. He could still return at Mantova to perhaps salvage a top three in the series, but that won’t matter to him. After six consecutive MXGP/MX1 titles, anything less means nothing.
Injuries are a part of our sport, however, and in order to finish first you must first finish. That is the sentiment that could be the determining factor when it comes to whether Romain Febvre will become a world champion. He has proven that he can ride sand, hard-pack and overcome adversity, so he certainly seems like an unstoppable force. To quote the current champ “anything can happen” though…
Gautier Paulin is sixty-one points back and the only rider who realistically could stand between Febvre and a world title. Still, there is no way that he will close that gap up without Febvre running into some misfortune. There have been many layers to the MXGP title fight, and there is no reason to think there won’t be more chapters to this incredible story. There are still three hundred points up for grabs.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: KTM/Ray Archer
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