#222 on the 222! A MXGP journey …

MXGP World Champion Tony Cairoli will reach a career total of 222 Grand Prix appearances the next time the Sicilian wheels out his #222 KTM 450 SX-F at Kegums in Latvia this weekend. After fifteen seasons in the FIM Motocross World Championship, nine titles and an incredible career we asked TC222 for some of the highlights.

Tony Cairoli (ITA) Orlyonok (RUS) 2018 © Ray Archer

The Grand Prix with the most beautiful setting …
“We first raced at Arco di Trento with MXGP in 2013. We go to some strange places with the world championship and they can feel very different but I still think Arco is one of the most amazing with that mountain background and being close to the lakes. Being in Italy the GP brings a little extra pressure but every time we arrive at that circuit it is hard not to admire it.”

Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Arco di Trento (ITA) 2018 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix track that sticks in the mind as one of the hardest physically and technically …
“Easy: Lommel [Grand Prix of Belgium]. It can get so rough and so difficult. I must have done thousands of laps at that place. It is the toughest track in the world. But I love it.”

Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Lommel (BEL) 2017 © Ray Archer

Celebrating titles in a number of countries – Brazil, Ireland and the Netherlands – is cool but nowhere beats home …
“Winning your first title is always special, so doing it in the Netherlands in 2005 was magical but winning in front of your home crowd is amazing. Faenza in Italy in 2012 was the country and the place that immediately stands out for me. The emotion is always strong when you know you have that red plate for the year and can turn it into gold!”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) Faenza (ITA) 2012 © KTM

A Grand Prix where I’ve had most fun …
“Hard one but I’ll say Beto Carrero [Grand Prix of Brazil in 2012-14]. It was right by the sea and part of an amusement park. The grandstands were always packed and the track was fun to ride. It was always a nice trip there and a nice and cool place to have a race.”

Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Beto Carrero (BRA) 2014 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix I’ve never liked …
“I’ll say Loket [Czech Republic], more for the track, which is always hard and slippery. I’ve had some success there both in MXGP and MX2 but also some tough races and not the most enjoyable.”

Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Loket (CZE) 2017 © Ray Archer

A favorite country for racing …
“Of course, I’ll say Italy! And we’re having quite a few GPs over the years and in some very different places like Maggiora, Ottobiano, Arco … Imola this year should be interesting. We go to many countries and, like I said, you get a different flavor in each one but I have to mention Argentina and Brazil for the amazing fans and the atmosphere you feel there.”

Tony Cairoli (ITA) Arco die Trento (ITA) 2017 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix that saw the very best of Tony Cairoli …
“Again difficult! There tends to be one race that stands out each season where you think ‘I was good that day … ’ but the one that comes to mind straightaway is Arco in 2017 where I managed to come back to second place after a crash on the first corner. It felt really good to win the Grand Prix after that ride.”

Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Arco die Trento (ITA) 2017 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix to forget …
“Oh, Sweden in 2012 where I had two DNFs; one because I had a stone caught in the rear brake and another from running into the mud and getting stuck. I went to Uddevalla leading the championship and left Sunday night without the red plate! It was almost unbelievable and so bad it was almost amusing. There is a nice end to that story though because I won the next six Grands Prix after that disaster to get the championship.”

Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Uddevalla (SWE) 2012 © Ray Archer

A lesson learned from 222 Grands Prix …
“Something that I quickly realized at this level and I came to believe in it so much that I had a tattoo made: ‘Disce pati si vincere voles’. A translation in English would be ‘learn to suffer if you want to win’ and it’s worked out pretty well for me.”

KTM 450 SX-F Redsand (ESP) 2018 © Ray Archer

Photos: KTM | Ray Archer