News 22 Jul 2016

Cairoli reverting to KTM's 350 SX-F ahead of Loket GP

Mid-season switch revealed for multi-time MXGP title winner.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

Words: Adam Wheeler

Eight-time world champion Tony Cairoli is to make a surprise return to a Red Bull KTM factory 350 SX-F for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Czech Republic at Loket for the 13th round of 18 in the 2016 MXGP series.

The 30-year-old Sicilian has apparently been testing with the 2017 version of the bike in Belgium this week and is set to use the new incarnation of the machine with which he claimed premier class titles from 2010-2014. He exclusively confirmed on Thursday that he will steer his ‘old steed’ at the circuit just outside of Karlovy Vary.

Cairoli won just four GPs in total on the 450 SX-F since deciding to swap motorcycles after five races of the 2015 campaign. He clinched the Spanish round on his first appearance with the bigger bike and then the British fixture two weeks later, however he was then injured in qualification for his home meeting at Maggiora. This season he won in Germany and Italy, but has failed to make the podium in the following four GPs.

Loket is not the happiest of hunting grounds for Cairoli, but his preferred surface of sand will welcome the MXGP series a week later at Lommel for the Grand Prix of Belgium. He’s second in the standings and needs to close down a 92-point gap to Tim Gajser with six events and 300 points left to obtain.

It is not yet known if Cairoli – who is reportedly very happy on the updated 350 SX-F – will remain on the bike for the rest of the season, with two of the remaining 2016 fixtures on ‘unknown’ tracks and the long and fast trajectory of Glen Helen still to come.