Antonio Cairoli

2017 FIM MXGP Motocross World Champion

Born on 23 September 1985 in Patti, Italy

TONY TURNS BACK THE CLOCK

Antonio Cairoli (KTM) was already the second most successful motocross racer in the history of the sport before he clinched his ninth FIM crown in 2017. The Sicilian dominated MXGP from 2009-2014 but then struggled through two injury perturbed seasons before returning to the top of the premier class this year and giving his Red Bull KTM team their first title with the 450 SX-F after five with the innovative 350 SX-F.

Cairoli’s trademark consistency was matched with some blistering performances across the nineteen round Grand Prix campaign in 2017; the longest term on record. He gathered twelve podium finishes and six victories but it was inspiring rides like his comeback from last position to first at round five at Arco di Trento, the powerful double win in Qatar for the season-opener as well as the fantastic double in the sweltering scenes of Ottobiano, Italy for the eleventh round that also stick in the mind.

At the age of 31, Tony was a full eleven years older than 2016 champion Tim Gajser (Honda) was when the Slovenian claimed victory twelve months previously and eight years more senior than 2015 winner Romain Febvre - proving that often there is little substitute for experience, racecraft and strategy. Cairoli’s ability coupled with his humble persona and immense popularity means that he is not only one of the most popular champions the sport has seen but also one of the very best. Will it be a 'perfect 10’ for Tony in 2018?

PALMARES
7 MXGP World titles – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017
2 MX2 World titles – 2005, 2007

Jeffrey Herlings

2018 FIM MXGP World Champion

Born on 12 September 1994 in Geldrop, The Netherlands

2016 FIM MX2 World Champion

HERLINGS STAYS FIT FOR THIRD TITLE

Just before his 22nd birthday and after a six-year MX2run that has mixed outright dominance with painful injury, Jeffrey Herlings (KTM) has finally bagged a third FIM MX2 World Championship and waved goodbye to the category he has dwarfed since making his debut as a fifteen year old in 2010. The Dutch star was unbeatable in the first twelve rounds of 2016 and claimed twenty-three out of twenty-four race wins, losing only to Dylan Ferrandis (Kawasaki) in the first race in Italy. A collarbone problem then forced him to sit out three Grand Prix and allowed his rivals a sniff at the vast advantage he had amassed in the standings – almost a repeat of the situation that permitted Jordi Tixier and Tim Gajser to seize the crowns in 2014 and 2015 – as Ferrandis and Max Anstie (Husqvarna) picked up Grand Prix victories.

Thankfully ‘84’ was able to return for round sixteen and got back to winning ways on his home turf at Assen. He won a race but had to settle for the second step of the podium behind wildcard Cooper Webb (Yamaha) at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the USA for the penultimate outing of the championship but confirmed his date with destiny in North Carolina. The distinction allowed Herlings to wear the No.1 plate seven days afterwards in his MX2 swansong at Glen Helen in California, which he fittingly ruled with a 1-1. Curiously, as Anstie paid the price for several DNFs, consistent podium finishers Jeremy Seewer (Suzuki) and Benoit Paturel (Yamaha) sealed top-three finishes in the championship without winning a single race in 2016.

PALMARES

3 World titles – 2012, 2013, 2016

Tim Gajser

2016 FIM MXGP World Champion

Born on 8 September 1996 in Ptuj, Slovenia

GAJSER STEPS UP IN STYLE

For the second year in a row the FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship was rocked by the skill, bravery and attacking aggression of a rookie. 2015 FIM MX2 World Champion Tim Gajser (Honda) made a late decision to vault into the premier class for 2016 and it proved an inspired move. The strong Slovenian, who trained and practised with the bigger CRF450RW even during his MX2 tenure, immediately adapted to the rigours of racing the larger motorcycle and threw his distinctive yellow cap into contention for the title from the very first Grand Prix at Losail, Qatar with a surprising double success.

Still only 19 years of age and pushing experienced rivals such as reigning number “1” Romain Febvre (Yamaha), Max Nagl (Husqvarna), Antonio Cairoli (KTM) and Gautier Paulin (Honda), Gajser proved his desert dominance was no fluke by winning another three of the first six Grands Prix in Argentina, Mexico and Latvia as the band of noisy supporters from Slovenia grew and grew at the fences.

His podium run would last until round thirteen, by which point Gajser was becoming attached to the red plate as series leader. Bumps in Belgium and Holland meant he would have to wait until the penultimate round at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina to be Honda’s first premier-class champ since 2000 and the first back-to-back victor in different categories since Greg Albertyn in 1992-93. Eight-time World Champion Cairoli finished championship runner-up ahead of Nagl.

PALMARES

3 World titles
Junior 125cc (2012)
MX2 (2015)
MXGP (2016)