With Jeffrey Herlings sidelined, most pegged Antonio Cairoli as the overwhelming favourite to win the opening round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship. The nine-time world champion did exactly that at the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina and in a dominant fashion too. What did he have to say about such a commanding performance on Sunday evening?This MX Vice post-race podcast has been transcribed for your reading pleasure.
MX Vice: I guess there is not much to say. You went 1-1, but it was a dominant 1-1. You had to make your way around your greatest competitors each time, proved a point and that you are on top form. All good, I guess?
Antonio Cairoli: Yeah, all good. I was a little bit disappointed with yesterday, because I know this track you need to have a good start to try to win the GP and I never won it here. I was looking forward for this race and then yesterday this happened. I need to start completely from the outside which, on this track, is not really the best, because the lap times are really close between everyone. If you do not really have a good start then it is tough to pass, but fortunately I had a good start both motos.
I could manage to stay in the top ten in the first laps. I even got to fifth and fourth, so I was really happy. I really, really enjoy the racing here. That second moto especially was very fun to ride with Tim [Gajser] and Romain [Febvre]. It was nice. Hopefully we can have another good race and good battles from Matterley on.
Your starts were obviously phenomenal. Did you actually believe that you could get such good starts from the outside?
Yeah! I believe, because I know I am a good starter. I know that it is really important. I was really motivated, because I know that I need to stay in top ten to hope to win this GP. That is what I did. That is what we worked for from yesterday to this morning in warm-up and everything. We tried to find a better way to go around that first corner and try to stay in front as much as possible. It worked and I should say that we are happy that we ended up having a good GP.
Looking at this track, I would guess it is not one of your favorites purely simply because it is so fast. It is not very technical. You are obviously a smart rider who likes reading lines and finding little technical things that you can do. Were you surprised that you were so on such a high level around here?
Yeah. You are right. It is not really a technical track. It is just a wide-open track with not so many bumps. Some sketchy kickers on the jumps where you need to be careful on. I know that I work a little bit more on the intensity this year, because I want to be prepared and I had some problems last year. I was prepared for this intensity for all of the motos. I think we did a good job until now.
Of course, I think Tim [Gajser] is a little bit faster than he was last year – he had a good winter and a good thing. I think he stepped it up and he is very fast this year. Romain [Febvre], I think, is a little bit better than last year. It is fine. It is nice to see them also growing and mixing it up on the standings.
I know you mentioned last year, I think it was in Trentino, that you were struggling with motivation with training in the off-season and stuff. I am guessing that this time around there were no problems at all?
No, I was really motivated because last year of course Jeffrey [Herlings] was the fastest all of the time. I had some injuries that stopped me, so I could not really follow anymore the training schedule. This year I was motivated to regroup and to try to stay as long as possible with him. Unfortunately, he was not here. We are riding in such a high level, also in training, that if you make a little mistake it can cost you a lot on this speed. We hope he is coming back soon and can mix it up also for the championship, which is going to be a good thing for me especially. We will see.
Like you mentioned, last year was just full of injuries. Every interview we did was just about problems and injuries. When was the last time you actually felt this good physically? Can you even remember?
I don’t know. I think I am on a level that I have not really had before. I prepared really good this year for this, to try to beat him and all the other guys also. I think it is really important first of all to stay healthy and to stay focused on the goal.
Is there anything that you can actually change to ensure that you do not run into the amount of crashes and injuries that you had last year? Is there anything you can even do?
Yeah! I need to train more, with more intensity on the training days. It is really important. The consistency on the lap times, which a little bit of a struggle last year. I was fast like Jeffrey in some points and then not for all of the thirty-five minutes, which was missing. That is why he always caught me at the end to win races and why he could be close enough to make a pass. I was working on this. This was my goal for this year. I think we are in a good way. For sure at the moment we are not really on top form, because it is just the first race. Everybody tried to stay a little bit calm and healthy. We are still building up a good base to be on top later on in the season.
Everyone is talking about Jeffrey Herlings at the moment, when he is going to come back and what your plan is. I guess it is pretty simple: You just need to go out there, do the best you can and get as many points as possible.
Yeah, of course. I am disappointed that he is not racing, but it is a GP. It is a world championship. Anything can happen. You see from yesterday if it was a race day, I would have lost twenty-five points. It is always there, the problem. You need to not underestimate no one else on the track, try to stay healthy and focused on the goal.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX