Jeffrey Herlings interview – Injury
Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jeffrey Herlings missed last weekend opening race of the 2017 European season due to a slight wrist injury. With his debut season in the MXGP class everyone was excited to see him go up against the other big three, Antonio Cairoli, Tim Gajser and Romain Febvre.
Instead it looks like he might not even race until the opening Grand Prix in Qatar, as he recovers. While it isn’t a big injury, it is one from the wear and tear of a busy winter.
We caught up with the three times World MX2 champion and asked him about his injury and also what he thinks of the MXGP and MX2 riders from last weekend’s race.
MXlarge: Jeffrey, what is the story with your wrist?
Herlings: For now, they gave me seven to 10 days off the bike, so we took the full 10 days, and we will start riding again on Saturday. Just because I have been riding so much, and obviously I had such a good winter going, so obviously to miss 10 days on the bike, it’s not the best, but we had such a good winter so far it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for our preparation for Qatar. The tendon has a bit of inflammation, so that is why I didn’t ride for a couple of days and took some medication, so the inflammation will be gone, but to be sure we took the whole 10 days off. So we start this weekend.
MXlarge: So it is just from over-riding?
Herlings: I didn’t crash, didn’t have an accident, after the Red Bull Knock out I took three weeks off, and I have been riding so much, it is like I over trained kind of thing. It’s a pity, but hopefully it will be gone by the weekend. Better than happening mid-season.
MXLarge: Did you watch the race last weekend?
Herlings: I have seen the highlights, but I didn’t watch too much. It was a shame I couldn’t be part of that event. It’s a nice event and obviously it’s a sand track and I a known for my sand skills, so it would have been nice to race those guys there. But we had to play it safe and listen to the doctor and not race there.
MXlarge: Your KTM team-mates all did pretty well. Have you ridden with those guys much in the winter? Jorge seems to be the guy who might be the guy in the MX2 class. What is your opinion on the MX2 class?
Herlings: I think it’s open, with me gone and Ferrandis gone. He would have been the big favourite, but he’s gone to the US. Now I think the doors are open for a bunch of guys, can be Prado, can be Paturel, Seewer, even Bogers man, there are so many guys with the potential to win moto or a GPs now. Anything can happen, in 2015 it was meant to be between myself and Jordi (Tixier) and we both got injured miss season, and Gajser ended up winning it. Also the year before with me and Tonus. It’s hard to be fit for the whole season, it’s such a long season. Prado has an advantage because he is light and he is a good starter and the tracks are watered just before the MX2 moto so it’s good for the MXGP moto, and with a good start you stay out of the injury zone.
MXLarge: I was surprised that Thomas Covington is the only guy to win a GP and only him and Jonass have won motos. Does that surprise you?
Herlings: That’s because I stole all the GP wins man (laughing). I won 61 GP wins and one of the best 250 riders in the history, but now with me gone, everyone is like Herlings is gone. It’s pretty special that only one guy has won a GP and that is Covington. All the rest of the guys are going to get some wins.
MXlarge: Are you excited to see that class?
Herlings: For sure, I mean they are all young guys, and when the gate drops they just go all out. By the end of the moto they used to fall like flies, but at the beginning of the moto they went crazy. I think MXGP is more calm and a lot of the top guys have already had big injures, but somebody like Prado, he is young, hasn’t had any big injuries and he doesn’t really understand the risk maybe. Because of that the level will get higher and higher. We are all a bit longer, like Cairoli, Strijbos, Searle, those guys are like between 25 and 35 so those guys have had big injuries and the mind-set gets different.
MXLarge: Have you been riding with Antonio, because he looked really fast on the weekend. How has your speed been compared to his?
Herlings: Obviously we did some practice together, but it’s hard to say. Practice you don’t know how hard somebody is pushing, so it’s hard to say with lap times. I feel confident and hopefully the wrist will be ok, and we get a couple of good days on the bike before Qatar. We will go there with one thing on my mind, and that is to win, but I also know there are a lot of fast guys, so even if I come in third or fifth. There are a lot of good guys in the championship, so many guys who can win, and it’s a long championship. You have to be on top of your game. I look up to Dungey, he is so consistent, like he has gone 2-2-1-4, how consistent is that. Normally he will be like that the whole championship and it will probably bring him another championship and I think the MXGP class will be the same.
MXlarge: Wanted to ask you about the Roczen accident, and his injuries, because looking at the stuff on Instagram, he looks like he has stuffed his arm up pretty badly. What is your opinion on the accident?
Herlings: It is proven the fastest guy doesn’t always win, and if you see now, the first three rounds, Kenny was the fastest, and he won’t win the 2016 supercross championship. I hope for him he can be back for outdoors, because that arm looks terrible from the pictures he has been posting it looks really bad. I hope it goes to plan for him and as quick as possible. We are all athletes and we all want to race. Looking at the images I think he will be off the bike for a couple of months, and I don’t know the complete details of what is wrong.
MXLarge: With Antonio winning on the weekend and looking good, and a lot of people I talk to say he looks really strong in training. Does that take some pressure off you, and maybe give you the chance to say, wait and see what I can do?
Herlings: Obviously going into the MX2 I was always expected to win, but now if Gajser wins, it’s ok, if Cairoli wins, it’s ok, if Febvre wins, its ok, people expect that, if I win people also expect that. None of us have the pressure. I am new to the class and Gajser didn’t win 15 of 18 GP’s, just saying, so nobody is expected to just win everything. One of the four will win, but even if that doesn’t happen there are other guys who can win. Looking at Cairoli he looks strong, and he looks motivated, he will be a big competitor for the championship and he has been in this game a long time and he knows how to play it. It isn’t always the fastest who wins. As for that race, he has been in Sardinia for a couple of weeks and riding that track a lot, even when I was there he was riding it a lot. So you can’t base anything from just one race. We all know Gajser is better on hard pack than sand, because he grew up on hard pack. I think same with Febvre, so next weekend might give a clearer vision, because most of the GPs are on hard pack and not sand.
MXlarge: Will you race before Qatar?
Herlings: It isn’t decided yet, we start riding again on Saturday and wait and see. Nothing is planned for the moment.
Ray Archer images