Antonio Cairoli is going to race AMA Pro Motocross this summer!

9x Motocross World Champion Antonio Cairoli has been confirmed to be entering the 2022 AMA Pro Motocross series this summer with Red Bull KTM.

Antonio Cairoli. - KTM Media/Overlook Farms.

KTM have announced today (21 April 2022) that Antonio Cairoli, the nine-times Motocross World Champion, will make his first appearances in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship this summer.

Cairoli’s career is distinguished in Europe as being the second most successful rider of all time in the World Championship, with his nine world titles being second only to the 10 of Belgian legend Stefan Everts. 

Cairoli was also an important piece of KTM’s journey to motocross domination in the 2010s, as the brand, together with Cairoli, became the benchmark on the world stage. 

Cairoli retired at the end of last season’s MXGP World Championship, a year in which he won two Grands Prix and was in championship contention until a heavy crash at the Grand Prix of Sardegna.

The 2021 season also included a first overall victory in the Motocross of Nations for Cairoli, together with Team Italy teammates Alessandro Lupino and Mattia Guadagnini, at the Mantova circuit in Italy. 

Cairoli had already made it clear in 2021 that his intention was to race the AMA outdoors series in 2022, but only now is there official confirmation from both himself and KTM. It is also worth pointing out that, although he has spent most of his riding time since retiring on a GasGas (essentially a KTM dressed in red), he will be on a KTM 450 SX-F in the US. This is also important from a motorcycle perspective, since the AMA’s production rule means that GasGas is still using last year’s motorcycle in 2022.

So far, Cairoli is in for the opening two rounds of the series at the Fox Raceway (Pala) in California, and Hangtown, Sacramento. However, that does not automatically mean that his year will be done after round two of the series. If they go well, who knows what could be in store for the 36-year-old.

“It’s exciting to finally confirm that I will be racing in the U.S,” Cairoli said. “To ride and race in America is something I always wanted to try. I like the look of the tracks.”

Cairoli has also stressed that results are not the sole aim for his American summer. He said, “For me there is no pressure to perform and I’m not going there with the same preparation as I would have had for a world championship but I’m taking it seriously and would be looking for good results. I know this will generate some interest and it will be great to travel, see some friends and enjoy my time.”

KTM Motorsport Director, Pit Beirer, said, “It’s a big pleasure for us to finally reach the stage where Tony is able to race again and to attempt one of his ambitions. Our Red Bull KTM structure means we can be fully ready for him in the U.S. and can give him all our support.”

Beirer continued, “Tony is an icon and still an important part of our racing program and it feels like this is the least we can do to pay back all the wins, the titles and the stories he has made with us for over ten years. I think it will also be cool for the American motocross fans to see some of the special talent that made Tony one of the best riders in world championship history.”

Ian Harrison, Team Manager of North America Red Bull KTM, said, “We couldn’t be prouder of having a rider and a person like Tony in our awning. He’s a true legend of the sport and one of the best riders of the modern era. His achievements are matched only by the impact he has had around the world.”

Harrison added, “We know he’s been preparing to race out here, and we’ve also been readying everything to give him the best amount of support. As we saw right up until the end of 2021 MXGP he is still extremely competitive, so I think that will be exciting for the fans in the U.S. to watch him in action.”

The news of Cairoli comes amidst rumours of Jeffrey Herlings - five-times Grand Prix Champion, 99-time Grand Prix winner (second all-time), and Cairoli’s Red Bull KTM teammate up until the end of last season - also heading to the US this summer since his ambitions of defending the MXGP title he won back last year have been ruined by a preseason injury. If Herlings is fit in time for Pala, could he join Cairoli in the US? At this stage, we can only hope.