He took care of every last detail, choosing the ideal setting, Assen, the track that forms part of the University of Motorcycling. The perfect backdrop for securing his ninth world title and entering the record books once more.
Having lost his first match ball at Jacksonville, Tony Cairoli only needed a fifteenth place finish in Holland, but he had no intention of making calculations, heading out on track with the bit between his teeth and closing Race 1 in second place, behind Jeffrey Herlings: “Right from Friday I tried to keep calm – comments the KTM rider – in race one I wanted to win, but celebrating the title while on the podium is something magical”. At Assen, the Sicilian has equaled Valentino Rossi's tally, at a track where the Doctor scored his last win, as if this were a sign: "Vale is a legend in the sport - underlines Tony - in Italy he has made motorcycling history and to match him is a fantastic feeling. Now I hope to move ahead of him - he warns - though I'm very sorry about the bad accident he had while training”.
Basically, the nine-time champ has no intention of stopping now. And to think that after a two-year fast, also due to various injuries that conditioned him, there were those who were having doubts as to his competitiveness. He like Rossi has had to face stiff new competition. While the Doctor has come across the likes of Marquez, Stoner and Lorenzo, the Sicilian finds himself dealing with Romain Febvre and Tim Gajser, who did all they could to bother #222. Antonio never considered throwing in the towel though and now he's back, on top of the world at the age of 31. "2015 and 2016 proved to be a complicated time in my career- he recalls - I was well aware of my value though and also convinced that with hard work I could get back to running with the best. I just had to get back into top shape - he adds - the results then started to come".
His mind is already on the future, because there's another goal to achieve now, or rather his tenth title, just like Valentino Rossi, though the latter's hopes are currently on ice after he fractured his tibia and fibula while training. A special mission that unites #46 and #222, the first aiming for a title that's not been his since 2009, the second hoping to make history and equal Stefan Everts's record: "To tell the truth, I never think about it - concludes the KTM rider - every time I get on the bike I just try to grow and improve, without any regrets. 2018 is still a long way off and for now I just want to enjoy this moment".