News 30 May 2022

Cairoli satisfied with Pala despite limited preparation

MXGP legend looks ahead following anticipated 450MX debut.

Words: Edward Stratmann

Image: Octopi Media.

Italian icon Tony Cairoli left Fox Raceway’s opening round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship satisfied with his end result of P7 overall, despite being limited in preparation after making a late commitment to line up in the US.

The 36-year-old put in a solid performance in his highly-anticipated AMA debut by going 10-6 to record seventh position at round one, gradually improving to deliver his best showing in the second outing on Saturday afternoon.

Kicking the day off positively by qualifying fifth fastest, this was a good precursor for things to come for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing legend, who at this point has only confirmed his intentions to race the opening two rounds.

Getting out to a decent start in the opening moto, he found himself in eighth position. From there, he showed he’s still got it despite his minimal preparation, clicking off some fast laps in a race where he was one of only seven riders to dip below the 2m20s. Although a small crash ultimately meant he finished 10th, plenty of encouragement could be drawn from his first outing.

Jumping out to an even better start in race two, Cairoli propelled himself into fourth before settling in behind teammate Ryan Dungey. Holding his own against the likes of Christian Craig and Eli Tomac as he engaged in some entertaining battles with the Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha duo, Cairoli eventually dropped back to finish sixth.

Having officially announced his retirement at the end of last season, the nine-time world champion cut a content figure in his post-race comments, stating: “Here at Pala, it’s a very nice debut for me. Of course, it could be a little better without the crash in the first moto, but I was close to the top-five in both races.

“I’m really happy about how it went considering my fitness, I only started doing some race training two or three weeks ago. Before, I was just testing for the team and for R&D at KTM, so I didn’t really have the plan until one month ago that I would race here. It was feeling a little bit like your mind wants to do it more, but you’re careful because this track was very sketchy and demanding so you need to just take whatever comes and we build up a little bit race after race.”

Cairoli also referenced his struggle in adapting to the production-specification bike setting in the challenging Pala conditions, especially having difficulties dialing in the suspension on the less stiff frame that has to be used in America.

Set to do some more testing with the team this week ahead of round two at Hangtown this weekend, Cairoli will be looking to find additional comfort on the bike in order to build on his satisfactory first outing in the AMA series.