There can be no doubt, when it comes to hanging in there and getting the job done Antonio Cairoli is the master. Since Cairoli moved to the 450cc class no rider has been able to match him for consistent results and end of season points.
A rider though that would probably have a few World titles himself had it not been for the legendary Italian is Belgian strongman Clement Desalle of the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World Factory team.
Desalle has finished second to the Italian legend on three occasions, in 2010, 2012 and 2013. He has also been just short of finishing second in 2009, ending the season 17 points off second placed man Max Nagl, and in 2011, when he was 11pts off the second placed rider Steven Frossard.
In a little over a week the Belgian will turn 25 on May 19, still young for an MXGP rider and just as he has done in years past, he is second in the MXGP series points. With 17 Grand Prix victories there are only two riders in the FIM Motocross World Championship with more GP wins, Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings.
In fact as far as the all-time Grand Prix winners list goes Desalle sits inside the top 25 riders, and just a handful of GP wins away from the likes of Dave Thorpe (22) and Harry Everts (23). Amazingly he is just one GP win away from Dutchman Kees Van Der Ven (18), who also went through his career without a World Championship victory, but was considered a rider who maybe deserved one.
Behind Desalle in that list of legends are names like Jean Michel Bayle, Bobby Moore, Donny Schmit, John Van Den Berk, Michele Rinaldi and Trampas Parker, all riders with a World title or two to their name.
Last weekend at the Talavera de la Reina circuit, Desalle scored that 17th GP victory and in doing so closed the gap a little on series leader and defending champion Cairoli.
“It was difficult, because I was sick on Saturday morning and in the qualification race. I threw up a lot. I took some medicine to try and make it better and sleep better. I felt better on Sunday and the races went well. It’s nice to have two races like I had and good for the championship. I enjoyed riding in Spain. I like these types of circuit and you had to find good lines and I really enjoyed that. The start was important and I got two really good starts, so that was good.”
Desalle will now move onto Matterley Basin in England, and try and close down the 24 points that Cairoli has over him. Of course it was in 2013 that Desalle won the Grand Prix of Great Britain, finishing with 2-1 results, however on that same weekend Antonio Cairoli won the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship.
Desalle will remember Cairoli’s success as much or maybe even more than he did his own GP overall. Defeat is what drives the first loser to work harder and try and capture that elusive World Championship. Desalle isn’t finished yet in his quest to become a World Motocross Champion. The next Grand Prix of the 2014 season can’t come quick enough for the Belgian.