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Simply The Best Story Geoff Meyer Images Ray Archer

Red Bull KTM Factory rider Antonio Cairoli is special, we all know that, and his statistics remind us time and time again. Funnily enough, the Italian legend isn’t like Stefan Everts or Jeffrey Herlings and have goals for breaking records, he just goes out, has fun and tries to win on a daily basis. That mentality works for him, and when he took his 87th GP victory at Matterley Basin last weekend, he did it using his brain and waiting for his biggest rival at the moment, Tim Gajser to make a mistake.

Cairoli might not have gone 1-1 like he did in Argentina a few weeks ago, but for the KTM man, a win is a win, and the points lead in the MXGP championship is his main goal. We talked to him about his weekend.

Motocross Illustrated: Last year we all said, and you said it yourself, you were riding better than ever, and obviously Jeffrey helped you get to that level. Where are you now compared to last year?

Motocross Illustrated: You just keep winning, now 87 GP wins. Do you still not count your GP wins?

Cairoli: I am better prepared this year; my endurance is better. Tim is faster than last year, so we will never know until we have Jeffrey back to his best level, then we will know the situation. What we showed in that second moto is what we showed all last year fighting with Jeffrey. The speed is good, the level is high, and the crash can be there any second on this speed and we saw that with Tim in that first moto and in a second, he was on the ground and he went down hard.

Cairoli: No, I didn’t know until somebody just told me. Motocross Illustrated: You always ride smart, you don’t win nine championships without being smart, and in that first moto Tim just took off and you didn’t try and follow him, you could see you were not pushing really hard. Did you think it was too sketchy to push that hard that early? Cairoli: I know Tim is fast this year, he stepped it up this year and he is more consistent and faster in each lap. You could see in the second moto, we pulled well away from the rest big time. I think he is going fast and of course, I also didn’t feel 100% coming into this race with this shoulder and neck problem and I don’t want to risk something. I know he was fast at this track and he passed me quickly and I was struggling in the first 20 minutes. It wasn’t good for me, but overall, we are happy with another GP win and stretch the lead. Motocross Illustrated: I know you probably are happy to win the GP and not win the second moto, but you are a winner and not beating Tim in that second moto just have hurt? Cairoli: Yes, I don’t want to finish second, when somebody beats you there is something burning and this keeps me riding, because if I don’t have this, then I am not thinking correct to be a racer. You must care about the racing and not just be here for the money. I want to improve and be better.

Motocross Illustrated: I can imagine you actually miss Jeffrey not being here. You have prepared with the endurance improvement and fighting with him was special for everyone last year. Until you hurt your hand last year you two were very close in speed. Cairoli: Of course, it is always nice to have him here. It keeps you focused, and not just me but all the riders. I don’t know the level this year and we can’t talk about this until he is back. At the moment we must adjust who is the challenger at each Grand Prix and I am really focusing on this. Motocross Illustrated: You seem to be having a bit of trouble with the bike control this year, like you are moving around different on the bike. Is the bike a lot different this year than last year? Cairoli: No, this race was a struggle for me. I had arm pump from the start until about 20 minutes, because of my neck and shoulder. I couldn’t ride and you probably saw some insecure riding

and for sure next week in Holland I will solve this problem and the next two weeks I will be better. Motocross Illustrated: How did you hurt your neck, sleeping or you had a crash? Cairoli: I had a little crash and over jumped in the sand and I had a compression on my neck and back and squeezed some muscles in my shoulder blades. It wasn’t a problem in the week, but it built up and when I was here yesterday, I had some therapy on it, I wasn’t feeling 100% and in Belgium we were riding, and it was muddy and slow riding and here it was very fast. When I woke up on Sunday morning I didn’t feel well, and my physio guy fixed it a little and we could race. Motocross Illustrated: You have won at Matterley six times, and six times at Valkenswaard. Those two tracks are your best from memory. Do you know any stats from where you have won the most? Cairoli: I don’t know. I didn’t even know how many GPs I have won, and you want me to know how many GPs I win at this track (laughing). Motocross Illustrated: So, you don’t know how many you have won here, well its six times and six in Valkenswaard. Do you know how many World titles you have? Cairoli: Yes, of course, because it isn’t so many, just nine, so I can remember that easy. Motocross Illustrated: Well, six times at Matterley, so it must be one of your favourite tracks? Cairoli: Probably, yes. I like the British fans and I like this track. I like the passion here and the people understand a lot about the sport and always fast riders from England, like Tommy Searle and we are friends. Also, the tracks in England are some of the best in Europe. Ray Archer images

DANISH DYNAMITE - TKO Story Geoff Meyer images Husqvarna

Thomas Kjer Olsen of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team showed in the opening round in Argentina that his speed is good against defending World MX2 champion Jorge Prado, but he just couldn’t get close enough in the early stages of the races in Patagonia.

Of course, last weekend Prado was out injured, but Olsen did get some nice starts, and showed that the speed from Argentina was still there. Clearly the leader at this present moment in the MX2 championship points, and while some might think he is looking at handing over the red-plate once Prado starts winning again, that isn’t the case at all. Olsen can see himself winning often, and the confidence he pulled out of the opening two rounds will put him in good stead when he arrives at the Valkenswaard circuit this coming weekend. The Danish dynamite finished with 3-3 in 2018 at the eurocircuit and will without question being looking for a 1-1 this year. Motocross Illustrated: Obviously when Jorge was ruled out, that must have been a massive boost, because he won the opening round. You don’t want him to be injured, but how was it when you got that news? Olsen: I didn’t think too much of it to be honest. He is always fast, and he is the red-plate holder, and when I saw it, I knew there would be some opportunities. I knew before I had the speed, but now a big contender was out of the race. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. We have been having really good preparation during the week, and I knew if I pulled off some good starts, I could really be on point with my racing. It was new for me to lead a lot of laps and it was a good experience. I have been two years in the class, just battling through the pack and it was a new experience and I got a lot of lead laps. It was fun and I want to do it again. Motocross Illustrated: You have a 44-point lead (over Prado) already, does that take a lot of pressure off you? Olsen: I guess, but I am not trying to set myself up that I am just against him. There are 30 or 40 great riders out there I have to battle, so I am just battling myself and riding well and staying in that good flow that I have. It isn’t like I am setting myself up against him that much, that is for sure. He is the World champion from last year and he is a big contender and the other guys are also practicing a lot and they are professional, and I know the others I also have to come up against. Motocross Illustrated: You are clearly the next guy behind Jorge, but like you said, there are a bunch of guys right

behind you waiting to get you? Olsen: These first two rounds, in Argentina I felt I had good speed and felt I could match Prado, but I wasn’t with him in the start. Argentina show me the speed is good, but I need to be up there, like I was this weekend. I felt super strong to be honest and the bike is also super strong. I want to continue this, and I went 1-1 and I want to continue that. It is a long season and it can get draining, but after Arco we have some weeks off, but it will be good to come back fresh after that. Motocross Illustrated: Henry really pushed you hard and I can imagine that is great for you, because as you said, you know if you slack off a little, there will be a guy there waiting for that? Olsen: I am well aware of it and we see them at the training track every week, and I can see they are all fast. I would say that first moto I was riding in my own lines and I saw him coming up and he was on me and I thought, oh, I need to change some lines and it was good to start changing them and the second moto I felt so much smoother in everything I did, and it felt good to ride like that. Motocross Illustrated: Even though Jorge wasn’t here, going 1-1 must be huge for your confidence? Olsen: Yes, of course, it gives a lot of confidence. Confidence is an amazing feeling and the actions from the fans and the paddock, it is a new experience and it is nicer than being down in the field peeling tear offs all the time. Motocross Illustrated: You are a good sand rider, seemingly better at Latvia than Valkenswaard, but you are a good sand rider, so you must be looking forward to next week? Olsen: I am looking forward to it, and I am good in the sand, but it isn’t like its sand and I feel a lot better. You could say I am better at Latvia than Valkenswaard, but I am an all-round rider and we are getting better in the ruts (like at Matterley). I had my family in England, and they will also be in Holland, and its great to always have their support. Juan Pablo Acevedo images

Juan Pablo Acevedo images

Juan Pablo Acevedo images






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Motocross Illustrated  

April issue of our FREE online magazine. Antonio Cairoli and Thomas Kjer Olsen talk about their victories in England last weekend.

Motocross Illustrated  

April issue of our FREE online magazine. Antonio Cairoli and Thomas Kjer Olsen talk about their victories in England last weekend.

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