Herlings interview – USGP and MXoN

Finally, another GP victory for Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jeffrey Herlings, and with a win comes more confidence. We have all said it, when he finds his mojo, then he can be the quickest guy in the world. We sat down with the Dutchman, and he gave us some really cool stuff about the weekend, the USGP and the whole Eli Tomac not racing the MXoN. Also, some cool stuff about training with Aldon Baker in America. Ray Archer images

MXLarge: It seems like this Grand Prix, more about pride than anything else. I mean you and Antonio are the two best riders in the world. How much is it about pride?

Herlings: At this Grand Prix, a lot. I mean a lot of people are saying I am the fastest guy in the sand, and a lot of people also say that about Cairoli, so he also wanted to prove a point. But this weekend I bet him in three motos, passed him in all of them, so no excuses for that one. In Italy I had bad luck, I was sick all weekend, Saturday I broke a wheel. Sunday, I was really sick, I don’t like excuses, and he beat me there. He also wins the championship, so he wins the big thing.

MXlarge: When Antonio does start blocking you like he does, does that make you angry at all?

Cairoli: No, because I know how he works and he wants to break me mentally. I don’t have any problem with it, it takes a lot of energy, but as long as he doesn’t just take me out I can deal with it. As long as it stays clean, and I am not a big fan, because I have had some big injuries, but when it is at a slow speed I don’t really care.

MXlarge: That mind games, it seems like he has beaten you in that a couple of times. Is that the case?

Herlings: He is smart, he is eight times world champion and like what 31 or 32 or something. He has been around a long time and knows the ins and outs and he is a smart guy, but we are trying to get smarter.

MXLarge: Possibly the greatest Grand Prix rider of all time, in what many are saying in the peak of his career. How nice is it to beat him like you did today?

Herlings: Its really nice, but I feel like I could have beaten him more often if my starts were there. If I was top five start, I normally catch him, pass him and win, but in Loket when I start seventh and he holeshots, you can be Eli Tomac on a good day or be me, and it’s almost impossible to win. I think if I get a good start, I can beat him on any track. I think I can produce the same speed as him, but at the moment his whole package is better, he is like top three in nine out of ten starts.

MXLarge: Even this weekend, it doesn’t always look like you are riding at your full potential, then suddenly you seem to find you lines and it’s the old Herlings. Is that the case?

Herlings: Depends, in traffic I am always not wanting to mess up and I don’t I don’t want to crash, ruin the season. I want to ride by myself, ride my own speed and I can pass those guys. Sure, we can learn a lot, still my first year. If we had said we were 15th in the championship and get back to second in the championship.

MXlarge: Starts today, the first moto wasn’t great, but within a few corners you were close to the front guy, second moto you were second to Antonio coming out of the first corner. That should give you some confidence for the last rounds.

Herlings: The thing is the 250 you just need the right rpm’s and its ok, with the 450 you need to do so many things correct, so many good guys next to you with good bikes and a lot of experience. I think the KTM 250 is maybe a lot better than the other bikes, but in the 450 class the bikes are a lot closer. I believe in the bike and the team and it is usually KTM or Husky always with the holeshots.

MXlarge: A big one coming up is the Monster Energy United States Grand Prix. How much do you look forward to going to this race?

Herlings: I am going early, I will go on the Tuesday after Sweden. I want to get used to the heat. I have seen the track, and I think it will suit me, but it will also suit the American riders. It’s fast and stuff and it’s going to be really hot. I am going to work with Aldon Baker there for two weeks and I am really excited for that, because he is one of the best trainers out there, and I am very excited for that. KTM gave me the chance to combine that, because he is also based in Florida.

MXlarge: No Eli Tomac for the MXoN, is that disappointing for you and do you understand his situation?

Herlings: I do, and those guys start their series in January and I think they train for like two months before the season begins, so then they have that until May and then the Outdoors starts and that goes until August. Then the USGP and Monster Cup, so he has nearly no time off, because if you take time off you can’t do the higher level. Maybe I would do the same in his position.

MXlarge: What about racing him at the USGP?

Herlings: Man, Tomac on a good day, that guy is gnarly, super, super fast.

MXlarge: Fastest rider in the world on his good day?

Herlings: I think so. Maybe if you put the guy in Loket, it would be a different, but at home, in America, you take out guys like Stewart and Villopoto, who have stopped, then yes, he is the fastest currently, the fastest guy on the planet.