Nine-times world champ Tony Cairoli dominated the opening round of the Italian International championship, as he was undefeated in the MX1 race and the combined MX1 and MX2 Superfinal. He beat a field of classy riders including former world champs Tim Gajser and Romain Febvre, and current world MX2 champ Jorge Prado in the combined race.
The opening moto was for MX2 class bikes, including 250 two-strokes which was ideal for Italian Mattia Guadagnini who took the holeshot from Prado. Guadagnini, riding a 250 Husqvarna TC250 smoker, held off a challenge from the world champion for 12 minutes as the crowd urged him on.
Prado eventually worked his way past and the world champ eased out to an easy win. Mikkel Harrup also forced his factory Husqvarna 250FC past to take second place, but Guadagnini managed to hold on to third to take a surprise podium.
Briton Ben Watson, out on the new-look Yamaha YZ250F, had a good start and worked his way to fourth place from fellow Yamaha man Michele Cervellin.
The MX1 class saw Tim Gajser steal the holeshot from Cairoli, Romain Febvre, Gautier Paulin and Ivo Monticelli as Arminas Jasikonis fell.
Cairoli tailed Gajser for 12 minutes and then made his attack. The Honda man fought him off for a couple of laps but had no answer as Cairoli came through and brought Febvre with him.
The Frenchman tried hard to catch the Italian but had to settle for second at the flag. Febvre said: “I’m happy as it’s been a long time since I had a good result chasing Tony to the flag.”
Gajser said: “I was OK at first but got arm pump. The track is very different to when I trained here recently.”
Gajser took third from Paulin as Jasikonis pulled through to fifth in front of Tanel Leok and Monticelli. HRC man Brian Bogers crashed and pitted, but British championship contender Gert Krestinov held on for 11th place.
The combined MX1 and MX2 superfinal saw Cairoli take the holeshot on his 450 from his team-mate, MX2 world champ Jorge Prado on the 250. They were chased by Gajser, Paulin and Febvre who was lucky to stay on after a wild ride in the deep sand. Once again Jasikonis went down whole Benoit Paturel retired, saying he was not fit enough to safely complete the race after so long off the bike.
As Cairolo pulled away at the front much to the delight of the partisan crown, Gajser stalked Prado and eventually got past with just three laps remaining as the leaders got caught up with backmarkers.
Cairoli took the win from Gajser and Prado, tailed by Paulin, Fevbre and Monticelli as Watson took a solid ninth place.