For the sixth time with two different motorcycles Tony Cairoli and KTM now rule the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
The 2017 MXGP story was closed on Sunday with the Italian taking the KTM 450 SX-F to a first title in Grand Prix with second position in the first moto at the Assen circuit.
It was another slice of history for #222 who now has nine crowns to his name and delivered the first No.1 plate to the factory in the MXGP (formerly MX1) series back in 2010.
Celebrations came as Cairoli headed almost every statistic for 2017.
He posted the most pole positions (six), led the most laps, scored nine moto wins (a total that Jeffrey Herlings overtook on Sunday at Assen), won six Grands Prix from 18 up until the Netherlands fixture and appeared on the podium 13 times. Importantly, and after two injury-hit years, Cairoli held the red plate as series leader from round seven and showed with 31 years of age that he is still the top dog in what has been called the most competitive term of MXGP to-date.
2017 has been a stellar season for the entire Red Bull KTM crew with three times MX2 World Champion Herlings becoming an authentic protagonist and 2018 title threat in his maiden campaign on the KTM 450 SX-F and Glenn Coldenhoff again appearing on the MXGP podium.
MX2 success is also close with Pauls Jonass’ performances and Jorge Prado’s prolific holeshots.
The zenith came at the Grand Prix of Belgium where all three MXGP riders filled the rostrum spots. Herlings also excelled in the United States with a victorious wildcard appearance at the final Lucas Oil AMA Pro National in Indiana.
The story of the year is Cairoli however, and his fantastic turnaround from a broken arm in 2015 and neck/arm nerve damage in 2016 (when he still finished as series runner-up) to again prevail in Grand Prix and therefore nudge closer to Stefan Everts’ record haul of ten world titles and 101 wins (Tony is on 83).
Tony Cairoli: “It was an important championship for me because we didn't start as the favorite, and for everybody who was ‘talking’ [doubting and criticizing] this is for them. I know what it takes to make a solid and consistent championship. We made it and I’m really happy about this. It was an amazing season, one of my best. It is amazing that I can still improve myself after almost fifteen years in the world championship. I’m proud of this and I think we can still work to be a bit better in some cases but right now I want to enjoy this title. It is the first with the KTM 450 SX-F for me, which is very special. The rest were with the 350 and when I was injured, we were never really in a position where we could test [the 450] a lot. This year I felt very good with the bike and we improved a lot in the winter.”
Tony will now try to close the book on 2017 with more champagne at the Grand Prix Pays de Montbeliard next weekend and then represent his country at the 71st Motocross of Nations at Matterley Basin on October 1.