In 2022, we will no longer find the renowned No. 222 behind the starting gates of the MXGP World Championship.
At the start of winter 2021, within a span of seven days, two motorcycle racing legends have ended their international careers. The two stars have everything in common – Valentino Rossi and Antonio ‘Tony’ Cairoli are Italians, and both are nine-time world champions – only their chosen discipline divides them: speed racing circuits for Rossi and motocross tracks for Cairoli.
At 36 years old, Antonio Cairoli, hailing from Patti, a town in the province of Messina (Sicily), is more than a great champion; he has become the icon of his sport thanks to his record, certainly, but also as a result of his modesty. You only have to visit his personal website to be convinced of this: ‘Ciao, I'm Antonio Cairoli, but my friends call me Tony. You can do the same since, if you're on this website, you either love motocross or are a fan of mine, and in either case, you're very welcome!’
The tone has been set; his behaviour will remain exemplary until crossing the finish line of his final MXGP in Mantova, where, last September, he gave himself a magnificent birthday present by winning the one major title that eluded him: the team classification at the Motocross des Nations, the world championship for national teams.
Mantova was where his MXGP career came to an end, all amid an extraordinary atmosphere: ‘One final race – I had hoped that I'd never have to write this post. Well, the time has come for me to turn the page, to say thank you to all of the people who have stayed with me throughout this long journey and who have always given their all. I will miss you all very much because your support has been one of a kind’, Tony Cairoli wrote across his social networks.
Following a first Italian championship title (cadets 125cc) in 2001, he discovered the world of MX2 in 2004 and won his first world championship crown the following year. With Yamaha, he would win two more titles (MX2 in 2007, MX1 in 2009) before joining, along with his mentor Claudio de Carli, the official Red Bull KTM Racing team, supported by MOTOREX. Winning five consecutive titles (from 2010 to 2014) and a ninth crown in 2017, he would remain true to his colours until the end of his career, getting directly involved with his team in the continual development of MOTOREX products.
During the Mantova final, MOTOREX also wanted to thank the ‘MX legend’ for his close collaboration by offering him a souvenir. Without a doubt, Tony will know how to use this timepiece when ‘DJ Cairoli’ spins the turntables (another one of his passions) at his Italian home. And, as his wife, Jill, notes, ‘He’s an amazing DJ!’ A new career on the horizon? Perhaps, although we will see Cairoli in the MXGP paddock again, that's for sure.
Date of birth: 23 September 1985. 9 world titles (6 consecutive), 94 GP wins to his name, 182 race wins, 179 podium finishes, 552 starts, 93 pole positions, 10,708 world points, 1 team win at the Motocross des Nations (2021), 3 individual wins at the Motocross des Nations, 11 Italian championship titles.