To see MX1 World Motocross Champion Tony Cairoli around the arena at the Bercy Supercross last month was a bit like watching a god being brought down to earth to live with the mortals. Normally such a fantastic force around a motocross circuit, Cairoli was off the pace and needed two of the three days at Bercy to be able to get near the top three, never mind reach the kind of speed that winner Justin Barcia was setting.
Nevertheless, Cairoli says he wants to compete in a couple of rounds of the AMA Supercross Series in 2011, which will new territory for the Italian. Supercross, however, isn’t a new adventure for Cairoli – he was European Champion in 2007 – but his latest attempts at the technical indoor discipline is part of a new way to stretch his career after setting numerous records in 2010; first rider to give KTM an MX1 crown, first in MX1 to win back-to-back titles and win on different brands, and also fulfilling his ambition of becoming the most successful Italian motocrosser ever.We recently caught up to the World champ and we spoke a bit with the 24 year old about the transition to Supercross and his views on 2011, which will be the second with the factory KTM 350 SX-F.How long does it take to build up the speed for Supercross?I think it takes years, and there are riders who spend many, many hours on a Supercross track. I don’t think that after two months I will go to these big events and win. I do know I can improve from the level I have now. I could only ride Supercross once after the end of the World Championship because the weather became so bad where we were. I rode once, tested and raced once before Bercy and that is nowhere near enough.How did you find the 350SX-F for the indoor arenas? Honestly? Perfect. We have a new engine set-up that is stronger at the bottom of the curve and we are trying some things right now that will improve the bike even more for the start of 2011. The suspension set-up is really different to what I have for motocross, I run a much harder compression for the fork and the rear shock [for Supercross]. Basically the bike feels very different and it takes a while to get used to it and build up confidence.Do you still plan to race in the U.S.?I need to ride more, but I am not going there with any expectations. I know it will be almost impossible to win, but if I train well, then I can go there and have fun and that’s my main objective.Sure there might be people wondering why I am not at the front, but those who know the sport also know that Supercross is a very different thing. I don’t really care what people say; I just want to improve and have fun.What about the championship next year and the likes of Ben Townley coming to Europe?Ben Townley will bring a new challenge to MX1 and it will be good to watch as he is one of the best technical riders I have ever seen. I respect him a lot for what he has done and I hope to have a good fight for the title with him; that would be nice. I think coming back to the world championship will be a good move for him.You have won four titles and are the best Italian in the history of the MX World Championship. Your goal has been achieved so how do you keep the motivation up?I always like riding for the fans and their enthusiasm keeps me motivated and, importantly, I still enjoy racing, so having motivation is not as vital as having fun with the bike and seeing what happens. I like the different terrain and the challenges of GPs. When I was a kid I really wanted to be on top of the world and now I have accomplished my dream. I find my goals now come down to the races themselves and doing well or beating particular riders on particular days.You are now on Twitter and have been on Facebook for some time. Do you like these new trends to reach the fans?It is amazing all these ways to speak to the fans, and I really like it because it brings everyone closer. I always like to learn about new things, and if my followers have an opinion, then I like to hear it. I appreciate feedback and will listen!2010 was a pressure year. Will we see you a bit more relaxed and playing on the bike more in 2011?For sure, the pressure is a little bit less next year than it was in 2010, mainly because I have won two years in a row and that is something that is not easy for any rider. It will be a fun year, and I want to be faster even if I know it will be hard again to be as consistent as I was in 2010. I will keep the same training methods and will just try to pick up my speed a bit, as well as developing the factory bike to make it better than what is already is.