Tony Cairoli has talked about his stunning double win in the opening Italian championship at Riola Sardo. “I’m very happy because we now start to adjust the bike to suit my riding style and we’ve done a lot of testing, which wasn’t possible last year because of my crash,” he said.
“Now I am more at peace with the bike so I can express myself better. The last two years we struggled a bit with the starts, but it sees now I’m pretty fast right from the first race. This was a sand race and that’s easy for me, so it will be interesting to see what its like on the hard pack at Malagrotta. That’s our home track and I know it well. But they always prepare it very well so it will be different on race day. Here we missed Jeffrey Herlings because he’s one of the best in the sand and it would have been interesting to race against him on this track. Hopefully he will be back soon and we can all race together again. There were a lot of GP riders here so it was a very good test.”
Jeffrey Herlings, who moves up to the premier class and the KTM 450 SX-F after again winning the MX2 title last season, decided to sit out the first race to rest a sprained wrist. MX1 teammate Glenn Coldenhoff finished eighth in the MX1 race and fifth in the Elite Class for a solid start to the season in a top quality field.
Coldenhoff: “I had a bad start in the first race and I was quite disappointed because I was really struggling, also a bit with the bike setup and some arm pump problems. But I was quite fired up for the second race and I must say the suspension was working unbelievably well. My start was not so good but I think my riding and my speed were right on point. Next week we’re at Malagrotta and that’s where our team is based. I think I have done about a million laps there but I’m happy to be there. It’s always a difficult track, but I always feel at home.”
After such a solid win in the MX2 class Jorge Prado admitted to having some difficulties in the elite race when he had a nosebleed in the third lap, but he was justifiably happy with his weekend. “I managed to get the holeshot in the first race and I was out front all the way. I had some pressure from Paturel who was coming up behind me in the last part of the race but I just gave it everything I had and I took the overall win in the MX2 class. I also started not so bad in the Elite race and I was riding behind Pauls (Jonass) but then in the third lap my nose started to bleed and I lost a bit of concentration, also the sun was getting very low and that made me a bit uncomfortable on the bike.” He said he was looking forward to round two of the Italian Championships, which would be a chance to show what he could do on a hard pack surface. “I’ve been training a lot of hard pack because this was my weak point last year,” he added.
Pauls Jonass got away well in the MX2 race on his KTM 250 SX-F and sat behind Prado in the early stages. But he developed arm pump and later admitted he had probably been a bit nervous. His sixth overall in the Elite Class race made him the fastest MX2 rider in the day’s final event and he said the track, once it had got rougher and heavy, had then suited him better.
Jonass: “My main goal was always going to be the elite race because that was going to be when the track got rough and heavy and that was better for me. Overall it’s better to start (the season) slowly and build up to Qatar (the opening GP – February 25), because there are 19 GPs and it is a long season. I just want to stay positive, stay calm and enjoy every race.” Jonass will race the Hawkstone International in the UK next weekend.
Riders also had the opportunity test out the new starting gate configuration. From 2017 the rules have been changed to provide for a flat metal grill set behind the start gates. They no longer have to prepare their own positions and the grill ensures the surface is the same for all riders.
The championship continues next weekend with the second round at Malagrotta, the final round is the following weekend at Ottobiano.