Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli launched his 2014 MX season with flair on Sunday taking impressive wins in both the MX1 and Elite Class at the opening round of the Italian International MX Championship in Riola on the island of Sardinia.
The owner of seven World Championship titles, Cairoli was clearly at home on the sand track and racing in front of the Italian crowd. He rewarded his fans with two impressive performances on the track, winning the MX1 race by almost 38 seconds and the Elite race (a combination of MX1 and MX2 riders) by 27 seconds. Carioli came away with a perfect scorecard of 120 points and leading the MX1 and Elite championship.
Tony Cairoli: “I really like this track and I am confident to ride in the sand. This seems to be getting better and better for me every year, so even though the track was difficult we had a good start to the season.” Cairoli said he was pleased with his physical condition and said Sardinia was an excellent place get in some track time in the sand when the weather in Belgium and Holland was still cold.
Also in Riola to contest the MX2 category was Red Bull KTM’s Jordi Tixier who had to settle for a fourth in the class, conceding a podium third to KTM rider Pauls Jonass of Latvia. Riding now in the senior competition, Jonass is contesting the MX2 Worlds this season for the Marchetti Racing Team after successful World and European titles in the 125 and 250 classes. Tixier and Jonass finished 11 and 12 in the mixed Elite class race.
Tixier had several crashes on the sand track and had to fight his way back into the action in both races but he came away reasonably satisfied with his first outing for the season. “My start in the super final was not so bad but I crashed in the first lap and then again with a slow rider. It’s not exactly the result I wanted but it is only the first of the pre-season races.”
Factory rider Ken de Dycker, unfortunately on this injured list was in Riola with the team but only as a spectator. He said he was making good progress with recovering from his injury and confirmed doctors were satisfied that it was healing quicker than they expected.
De Dycker: “I hope in 3-4 weeks I will be able to do everything again. I am feeling positive for the season and I’m happy this injury happened in December and not during the season. Now I just have to fight back, to do everything as good as I can and gain some points when I get back on the track.”
With round one of the championship taking place in the deep sandy tracks of Crossdromo Dunes in Riola Sardo, Sardinia, Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Tyla Rattray placed an impressive sixth and fourth in MX1, while teammate Todd Waters was sixth and eighth.
In the MX2 category, Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Romain Febvre improved on his sixth position in the MX2 race to place an incredible ninth overall and second fastest MX2 rider in the combined MX1/MX2 Elite Final. Delivering his best result of the day, Aleksandr Tonkov finished seventh in the MX2 race.
Setting the fourth fastest time in the morning’s qualification, Tyla Rattray hoped to mix it with the leaders early on in the first MX1 race. But following a poor start the South African was forced to work his way forward from eighth position on lap one. Fighting his way up to fifth, he then battled hard with team-mate Waters during the halfway point in the race. Upping his pace in the closing stages, Rattray eased away from Waters to claim fifth. Despite his best efforts Waters was unable to keep pace with his teammate during the final few laps and settled for a comfortable sixth position.
In the opening MX2 race Romain Febvre intended to capitalise on his eighth fastest time set in qualification. But a costly mistake left him languishing in 18th position at the end of lap one. Undeterred, the Husqvarna rider set about charging his way through the field of riders. Tenth on lap two, Febvre pushed hard to reach as high as fifth with just three laps remaining. But with the difficult conditions taking their toll, the Frenchman slipped back one position to end his race sixth.
While Febvre fought his way forward, Russian Aleksandr Tonkov set the pace out front. Grabbing the all-important holeshot, the Husqvarna rider led the way. Maintaining the race lead during the first six laps, Tonkov dropped back to third as the race passed the halfway point. He eventually placed behind Febvre in seventh.
In the combined MX1 and MX2 Elite Final it was South African Tyla Rattray who produced Husqvarna Motorcycles best result. Fourth at the end of lap one, Rattray raced hard for a top three result. But unable to find a way around Evgeny Bobryshev, Rattray crossed the finish line in fourth – just two seconds behind his rival. Placing inside the top ten, Waters was eighth. Delivering an impressive performance, Febvre worked his way from outside the top ten to finish as the second highest placed MX2 rider in ninth.
Tyla Rattray – Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna Factory Racing MX1: “Overall it’s been a very positive day for me. I feel that I’ve made a lot of progress and it showed in the final race of the day. In the MX1 race I struggled a little with setup. It’s been a long time since I raced in sand this rough. We changed the suspension settings and I instantly felt more comfortable on the bike for the Elite Final. It was a big fight between Jeremy Van Horebeek, Evgeny Bobryshev and myself for the runner-up result. Unfortunately I just couldn’t find a way around them and finished fourth.”
Todd Waters – Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna Factory Racing MX1: “It’s been a bit of an up and down day, but it’s also been a good learning experience for my first race in Europe this year. I struggled a little with my starts and that sort of held me back. Each race I had to come through the pack. In the MX1 race I worked hard to finish sixth and in the Elite Final I was running sixth until I tangled with another rider and dropped back to eighth. It was a rookie mistake and I’ve already learned from it. Overall it feels good to have the first race of the season under my belt – I’m ready to continue improving from here.”
Jacky Martens (Team Manager) Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing MX2: “I’m very happy with how both Romain and Aleksandr performed. They showed great strength and determination in tough conditions. In the MX2 race, Aleksandr proved his speed is good. He got the holeshot and led for the first 15 minutes. Unfortunately arm pump slowed his progress and he dropped back to seventh after a small crash. In the Elite Final, Tonkov also rode well. He started 15th and was leading the MX2 class. But again he got some arm pump and had a big crash trying to ride around the problem. Thankfully after some medical checks he is Ok. For Febvre, he fought well to race from last to sixth in the MX2 race. In the Elite Final he pushed hard against the bigger machines to finish ninth and the second fastest MX2 bike. For our first race with Husqvarna Motorcycles I feel we’ve taken a big step forward over 2013 and I’m excited to see how the rest of the year progresses.”
The Italian International MX Championship is a popular pre-season opportunity for the top riders to hone their skills ahead of the opening MXGP fixture in Qatar on March 1. The second round of the Italian Championship is next weekend in Sicily, Cairoli’s home island.
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