Born in Patti, Messina, in 1985, Antonio 'Tony' Cairoli is a major talent in world motocross who has quickly risen through the ranks to claim three MX world championships by the age of 23. Sicily is not known for its motocross scene but Tony inherited a passion for engines and speed from his father, Benedetto, who used to race around the streets of Patti as a young man.
Benedetto was invited to try professional racing but his father Antonio refused to let him race. But the bug never quite let go of Benedetto and he bought Tony an Italjet 50 cross motorbike for his fourth birthday. The future champion spent hours practising on the track in front of their house and began racing competitively at the age of seven, taking his first win after just two races.
After winning several regional titles, he joined the Motocross World Championship 125cc in 2002. Having signed for Claudio De Carli’s team in 2003, and begun training in Italy and Belgium, Cairoli exploded onto the international scene with his first victory on a 250cc at Loket in the Czech Republic. He finished the season third in the MX2 World Championship before winning it the following year. In 2006, the combination of bad luck and injury kept him to second in the MX2 World Championship, but he still won the European Supercross Championship and the MX2 Italian series.
He dominated 2007, winning 10 of the 15 motos and leading the championship for the whole season on his way to his second MX2 World Championship. He also claimed his first win in MX1, deputising for the injured Joshua Coppins at Brands Hatch. In 2008, he stepped up to MX1 and wrapped up the world crown in 2009, with one race to spare. Expect Tony to be out in front for years to come.