He performed remarkably well, fifth overall on the day, certainly good enough to maintain his position at the top of the world championship standings.
Could he possibly carry on a claim his ninth world title, or even a tenth one, so that he can equal legendary Belgian rider Stefan Everts?
Cairoli is one tough customer and, even as the younger brigade challenge him more and more with each passing season, he has proven he is still world class.
The Sicilian will now have two weeks to prepare before he lines up in front of his native Italian fans at the Grand Prix of Italy, at the sandy Ottobiano circuit.
“The weekend (in Russia) was good and I was prepared for the track and for the muddy conditions.
“I have to admit that I was a little bit worried about the heavy rain that was falling on the circuit, because I’m not a big fan of the mud and always struggle a bit. I don’t feel comfortable when I have to put my left leg down, because of a knee injury I had some years ago, and when the bike is heavier than normal with the mud, then it’s even worse, so I had to take it easy.
“In the first moto I had a very good start and I was leading for half the race, before Jeffrey (Herlings) passed me and I finished second, which was still a good result, all things considered.
“In the second moto my bike slid a lot on the gate and I had a bad start, then somebody hit me and I almost crashed,” he explained.
“As I pushed to get back amongst the pack, I crashed on the top of the hill and I got stuck with another rider, so it’s fair to say that it was a fairly dramatic start to the race for me.
“I did my best to get back to seventh, but then I crashed again, trying to pass a lapped rider who was on my line, and I got stuck in a rut.
“I was disappointed because it could have been much better, but I’m happy with the championship standings and that’s what really matters at the moment.
“Now I’m looking forward to the next round in Ottobiano, a track that I really like and where I will get to meet the Italian fans once again.”
MXGP World Championship Standings:
- A. Cairoli 381 points;
- C. Desalle 334;
- G. Paulin 333;
- J. Herlings 291;
- T. Gajser 261.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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