Antonio Cairoli had a perfect weekend at the Grand Prix of Lombardia and, unsurprisingly, was still being mobbed by fans a couple of hours after the final moto. Cairoli still made time for a post-race podcast on MX Vice though and tackled all of the hot topics from the last seven days. The written version of that is below.
MX Vice: You won your home MXGP, both motos and pulled back fifty points in the title chase. Weekends do not really get much better than that.
Antonio Cairoli: For sure. My goal was to get back-to-back wins in this GP from last year. I was looking forward for this GP already. The fans here are another gear more. They are pushing a lot. Hopefully Jeffrey [Herlings] can come back soon, because it is nice to fight with him always. The limit is very high. We are on a limit now that it could happen to him or it could happen to me. We are training always faster and faster all the time. The level is so fast and it is always on the limit. I think it is important to stay healthy and to look a little bit more for the consistency than to be faster and faster all of the time at the moment.
Speaking of the high level, were you on the limit at all this weekend? It seemed like it was a pretty easy day for you as far as GP wins go.
It is always difficult to win, but with the hot and with the physical conditioning that I have, I was pretty sure to make a good result. My goal was to not make mistakes that could cost me an injury or stuff, just to look for big points and not show anything to anyone with a big gap distance or something. My goal was to just take the points and reopen the championship chase. That is for sure what we were looking for already before the weekend. I am happy overall. Hopefully in Indonesia it is going to be hot again. I like this kind of condition. Hopefully we can have good battles and a good race.
The qualifying race was obviously a bit difficult for you but, if anything, that gave me more confidence that you were going to win today. Even in traffic, you were faster than anyone else. Typically you are not really a guy who goes on the inside gate anyway. Seventh gate pick was actually ideal for you.
Yeah, of course. One thing was good because I know a lot of places to pass, but another thing was also make me a little bit tired because I needed to push hard to come back. Seventh gate pick was good, but if I was twelfth or thirteenth then it would not have been the best. My goal was to arrive top five, so I pushed a lot yesterday. I was quite tired I would say this morning, but I know that the race is tough and it is a not-so-easy track. With technique you can win.
With the way that you felt today, had Jeffrey been here, do you feel like you could have won still or given him a run? How do you think that would have played out had he been here and healthy?
You cannot really make a comparison, because for sure Jeffrey in the sand is very quick. Physically he is very strong at the moment. I do not know how he will react to the heat, but for sure if he was here it would be a battle against me and him and maybe with a bigger gap with the rest. It is always difficult to win. The danger is always around the corner, so you need to be one hundred and ten perfect focused, even if you are not pushing one hundred percent. It is always difficult. I am glad that we could take it home with fifty points and also that yesterday with the crash I had nothing happen.
Was there any more pressure on you in that respect? You obviously knew that this was a golden opportunity and a chance to pull back fifty points, which was probably not going to happen again. Did you feel that pressure a little bit?
No. I ride always trying to stay on two wheels and try to make it with technique and with physical condition. This was the real perfect case. The speed was not really important on this track. It was more important to be consistent every lap and to be physically fit. This is what I was. I was pretty confident for the race.
From my viewpoint, the pass on Tim Gajser in the second race looked quite close. It looked like you forced the issue a little bit. Why did you feel the need to do that so early? Obviously, you were faster and there was plenty of time to go. What made you want to get that done so quickly?
He came from one side to the other, so we got a little bit cross jumped. I see that he was pushing very hard and I wanted to take the lead and make some gap before the lappers came. So, for me, it was important to make the pass and take the lead before I reached the lappers. You never know what can happen with them, so this was just the case.
Does it piss you off at all the way that people react to the injury that Jeffrey Herlings sustained and how you treated it? Over the week on social media and everything you saw people saying that this is what you have been waiting for and that you knew this was going to happen. I am sure that is not the case though because, as a sportsman, you do not just sit around and wait for someone else to get injured.
No. Social media is a bad thing. A lot of people talking that maybe cannot even ride the bike. On the level of here now, you only have to play respect for me and for him. I am almost eleven years older than him. Fighting with him is always difficult. His physical condition is top and he is always pushing over the limit. It is not my riding style this, so I need to adapt to this.
We try to do our best always. We do not wish that anybody gets injured. Like I said, the 450 is really a bike that you cannot really give too much confidence on. You have seen already from [Tim] Gajser. You see it from [Romain] Febvre. It is always good, but at one moment when you are too confident it is quite a strong bike and tough bike.
You are obviously not immune to injuries either, because you have got a banged up knee at the moment. How was that this weekend? Does it feel much better than France?
Yeah, the knee is good. It is getting better for sure. I have done some treatments and the swollen is away for sure. It has been always not my best point, because it is always unstable. I always had some issues with this knee and the leg is not strong enough. It is moving a lot, so it is always some issues with the knee. I keep riding with my side. I adapt a little bit. Today was good. Also in France it was not so bad. There was nothing to complain about it.
Finally, the gap is twelve points now. Does that change anything for you? The way you train or prepare, maybe? Does it give you a bit of a second wind?
No. For sure we keep our routine and we try to stay always in front with the start. This is the key. I have dropped some points to him, because I have had not some good races in Germany and Russia. I have lost some points. Normally we are always one and two. The gap should not be what it was before this race. But with some bad starts, I messed up some a little bit. My goal is try to stay as close as possible with him and try to make the run for the championship.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer