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KTM – Teammates

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The Red Bull KTM Factory team will go into the 2017 season with something they haven’t had in a long time. The orange army haven’t been in this situation in the MXGP class, with their two biggest riders going head to head for the biggest championship in motocross.

Eight times world motocross champion Antonio Cairoli, and three times world motocross champion Jeffrey Herlings will line up on the same gate next year, and its anyones guess who takes out the title. The old versus the new of MXGP, both riding the Austrian bikes, and both looking for their own peice of history.

For Pit Beirer it is a collision that he knows will decide who takes over as the main man at KTM, and it’s a battle he looks forward to. He has worked with both Cairoli and Herlings for many years, and it isn’t easy to make a comment on who he really thinks will be the big favorite going into 2017.

“You know, it’s no secret I love this kid (Herlings),” Beirer said. “In fact he isn’t a kid anymore, he has grown up. The development of this guy as he works with us is outstanding to see. He was just a fast kid, sometimes crazy, sometimes not, but I see him as a very strong package for the future. He is so committed, and he works so hard, he spends so many hours on the bike, nobody knows the bike as well as him, and I don’t know any rider who rides as much as him. We all know the risk this sport has, and its nothing new, the sport has its risks. I see how well prepared he is, and I think the luck wasn’t on his side with some of his injuries. Three or four mistakes he made, and he really had to pay a price.

“I think this year, the win in MX2, that gave him the perfect platform for MXGP. I think the win this year gave him confidence and peace inside that the job is done in MX2, and he can move to the next class. I want to touch wood. and hope all my riders stay healthy and can compete for the championships in 2017.”

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As for Antonio Cairoli, Beirer feels the Italian will be looking to find out if he still has it against the best of the MXGP class. Every great champion comes to the end of his era, and while Cairoli hasn’t won a title since 2014, Beirer feels that experience and consistency might still help Cairoli be in contention and add title number nine to his already impressive championship tally.

“He is at an age where every year, you have to decide if you can do it at the top level, or if it’s time to stop, all sportsmen of his calibre have to do. He is really committed to not give up, and he is highly motivated to show he is a winning rider. I am 100% behind him, and feel he can come back. It is also interesting for us to see if the wild, strong young boy, will beat the experience, the speed and the ability of an Antonio Cairoli. We still believe in Antonio, and he will give a hard time to the competition in 2017, I am sure.”

We will all find out in the coming months, will it be Cairoli or Herlings who leads KTM into the 2017 title challenge? One thing is for sure, the Red Bull KTM Factory team are well represented in the MXGP class.

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