Monday Conversation: Cairoli and Herlings

Monday Conversation: Cairoli and Herlings

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A second Red Bull KTM double for MXGP and MX2 World Champions Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings was the end result at a “game of two halves” in Bulgaria Sunday, with the changeable weather playing a key part in the formation of the rutted Sevlievo soil. Cairoli had to deal with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Gautier Paulin again putting up strong resistance (winning the first moto as he had done the previous week in Italy) and Herlings was perhaps a tad fortunate that MX2 series leader Arnaud Tonus slipped off his CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki while fronting the opening race in the 250s. Here are the reactions from the winners on Easter Sunday, when their opponents and title contenders ended up with egg on their faces.

Tony Cairoli:

On winning for the first time in Bulgaria on the bigger bike (since 2007 in MX2)…
It feels amazing actually. I have never won in the MX1 here in my career and I always struggled a lot at this track. Today there were a lot of ruts so I was thinking I might be able to express myself better than when it is slick and dry. I had the holeshot in the first moto but Gautier was faster than me. He passed me in the first two or three corners and I tried to stay with him but it was pretty slippery in some of those ruts and pretty dangerous. I was worried about hitting my ankle again [which was injured in pre-season at the last round of the Italian Championship] but it worked out fine and I didn't have any more pain. I tried pushing at the end but he was faster and I couldn't come closer.

Dealing with the two contrasting motos and the weather…
Yeah, we had two different situations. The first race saw a lot of hard bumps but also some good traction in places. The second was slippery all over! You had to look for the grip and it was difficult to adapt to a completely different track.

Cairoli extended his MXGP points lead after winning the overall on Sunday. Photo: Ray Archer
Cairoli extended his MXGP points lead after winning the overall on Sunday. Photo: Ray Archer

On almost crashing while in control of Moto2…
I was comfortable in the lead but from one lap to another that line heading into the new section kept changing. I got my footpeg stuck once and hit neutral. I almost went over the bars and lost a couple of seconds. There were other mistakes; one on the same lap! Anyway, I had a good gap.

On racing in the sand next for round six in Holland…
For sure I like the sand but I have been training a lot on the hard-pack to try and be faster on this [terrain] than I was before. Anyway, the sand is good for me and I’m looking forward to racing close to my second home and it’s nice to be near some of the fans I have up there.


Jeffrey Herlings:

On the hassle of arm-pump…
Obviously I was really struggling yesterday [he led the qualification heat but dropped back three positions before recovering to second place]. I didn’t ride that much in the morning because we only had one session [the timetable was reduced after heavy rain in the build-up to the GP] and then after three laps in the heat race I had it [arm pump] bad. Anyway, second was more than okay for the start gate.

On the first moto and almost losing to Arnaud Tonus…
I didn’t have the best start which meant overtaking a lot of riders and then I worked on closing up to Arnaud. The arm pump was there again for a few laps but then faded away. He had a five or six second lead and I managed to close on that when he made a small mistake and fell over in a turn. After that I could take the lead. I did the same thing a lot quicker in the second moto even though the track was very tough for me simply because I’m not so used to these conditions. It was really weird. We don't find too many places like that in Holland!

Herling won his second straight MX2 overall.  Photo: Ray Archer
Herling won his second straight MX2 overall.  Photo: Ray Archer

On his lack of race form…
I’m struggling because I haven’t ridden that much. I didn't ride in December or January and only started in the middle of February, just two weeks before Qatar. I had a virus after Thailand—didn't ride—then fell on my shoulder and missed another two weeks. So I don't really have so much racing rhythm. We just need more time on the bike. I have a really great and supportive team behind me and we are working to get back the red plate. Arnaud has made a great step this year but we are coming close and I just need a bit more time to make more of a difference in the next couple of races.

On his contract situation for 2015…
I still have a contract with KTM for next year because midway through last season I signed for 2014 and 2015. So I’ll definitely be with KTM for next season.

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