If there's a key to Team USA's consistent success at the Motocross of Nations, it's consistency itself. All of the trappings of regular racing--crashes, mechanical troubles, injuries--seem to trap every nation but the U.S. at the race. Just ask the current star of the MX1 division, Antonio Cairoli.
Once again AC222 will enter the MXoN with heaps of momentum, his 1-1 performance at yesterday's German GP delivering his seventh-straight overall win, capping another superb championship season.
But while Super Tony holds six FIM World Motocross Championships, he has never delivered a class victory at the 'Nations, and most often, crashes, bad luck and other incidents prevent him from even having a shot at it.
It was another disastrous MXoN in France for Cairoli last year.
Sarah Gutierrez photo
Just last year, a first-turn crash in his first moto pretty much ended Super Tony's day. He crashed again trying to come through traffic and broke his wrist, leading to a last-place (20th) overall finish in the MX1 division. His 2010 performance was much more indicative of his skills, as he shadowed Ryan Dungey for much of his first moto to finish a strong second, than took fourth in his second moto. Good enough. Perhaps Cairoli's finest performance came in front of his home crowd in Italy in 2009, when he bested Chad Reed in a great duel to win his first moto, while Dungey, in his first 450 race, was a distant third. But it was yet another massive first-turn crash that ruined Cairoli's second moto, leaving him down and out, and officially 38th in the results column.
An injury knocked Cairoli out of the second half of the 2008 season and also kept him out of the 'Nations. In 2007, he came to the U.S. event at Budds Creek with a bit of a rivalry brewing with Ryan Villopoto in the MX2 Class. Unfortunately, AC's bike didn't come with him. After a battle through customs, Team Italy's bikes showed up late, but the course of weekend seemed set. While Villopoto delivered an incredible 1-1 overall performance on his 250F, Cairoli logged disappointing 37-14 scores in MX2.
Cairoli's 2010 performance was much more indicative of his skills.
Simon Cudby photo
Cairoli did get a moto win in 2006, going 10-1 in the MX2 Class (Villopoto crashed while leading moto two, but did still win the class overall). In 2005, Cairoli came into the MXdN as the new MX2 World Champion, but he had troubles again and went 36-29 in MX2.
In all, the six-time World Champion has delivered just two moto wins at the 'Nations, and many more crashes and disappointments. But he appears to be riding better than ever now. Is it finally his time to shine on the biggest stage?