Red Bull KTM rider Jeffrey Herlings has had a good start to the 2011 season with victory at a round of the Italian Championship and also a win last weekend in Holland. The 16 year old will go into this year’s FIM World MX2 Championship with high expectations, many looking at him to be the guy who can battle series favorite Ken Roczen.
Herlings himself is playing his cards close to his chest, but you can be sure the Dutchman will want to start the season in Bulgaria with victory.
We caught up with Jeffrey today. Here is what he told us.
MXlarge: Jeffrey, how's it going, enjoying this good weather?
Herlings: Sure, it's great; I mean it's middle of March and already nice and warm. 15 degrees of something. Holland is sometimes strange, it's warm now, but its possible tomorrow is five degrees.
MXlarge: I was just sitting on the terrace in Nijmegen drinking beer and enjoying the sunshine.
Herlings: Oh, that is nice, it is really nice outside.
MXlarge: Three races and two wins including a win last weekend. Tell me what happened in that crash in Gemert?
Herlings: I won the moto (in Gemert), but didn't win the overall because of a crash in the first moto. That was a pretty big crash. I managed to come through to finish fifth in that moto. I man for the start of the season its gone okay, I won in Italy, I won last weekend and I was on the podium in Gemert. Not the best riders there, but I felt good.
MXlarge: But tell me about that crash because it looked terrible? Jeremy (Van Horebeek) was really lucky not to get hurt the way he landed.
Herlings: Jeremy doesn't need to fly with Ryanair or Easyjet anymore, he just flies by himself. I don't know, another rider was on the outside of Jeremy and he rode into Jeremy and Jeremy rode into me. I nearly hit the podium. I mean Jeremy was really lucky because he highsided and almost landed on a pole. I think he didn't have anything, but I had some problems. I didn't ride all week.
MXlarge: How do you feel coming into Bulgaria, because last year you were the rookie and that race last year was one of the best MX2 races I have ever seen. How do you feel this year?
Herlings: I feel strong, I have been training hard on the hard tracks with the team and my fitness is good. I am ready for the start of the season. Of course last year nobody expected anything from me, but this year they expect me to win or be on the podium. I just go and have fun and do the best I can and hopefully be on the box.
MXlarge: What about Ken and his preparation for Bulgaria?
Herlings: I think he did well in the US, he had the speed, but just couldn't get the results, and for sure he had the speed to win the races. His preparation will be good, he's raced a lot and he is strong, I don't know if he can keep that for the whole year, but I think Ken can do it, he is strong and talented and knows what he is going. He is going to be the main guy to beat.
MXlarge: Who else is going to be tough in the MX2 class?
Herlings: I think Ken is going to be the main guy, but behind him there will be guys like Paulin, Searle, Anstie, Jeremy (Van HoreBeek), they are all really strong. I am looking forward to racing Tommy, I've never raced him and he raced in France and did some good results, also won last weekend. I don't know what to expect from Tommy.
MXlarge: How do you feel coming into Bulgaria? Obviously last year you were the rookie and this year you have the extra experience.
Herlings: I feel more comfortable and it seems easier this year, I have ridden all the tracks and I know what goes on in the Grand Prix's now. It's better for me with more experience and I know how things will go.
MXlarge: What about MX1? Who is going to be the top guy there?
Herlings: Of course Tony will be the guy to beat. I think the MX1 class is a really strong class. I think Frossard will win some races and he will surprise a lot of people. Also Desalle, second last year and Townley, he is a lot of times injured, but he has the speed to beat Tony. We will see how it goes, but I think Tony will be the guy to beat.
MXlarge: I heard you got a girlfriend. Tell me about that; is that your first real girlfriend?
Herlings: Yes, I have a girlfriend, but it's not my first girlfriend, no man!!
MXlarge: I thought you liked being single?
Herlings: That is what I mean dude. Its okay, it's not like it's really serious. You know how it works; I don't need to tell you how it works.
MXlarge: What about your winter did you get time to enjoy yourself a little, winter sport of something?
Herlings: No man, I was every day at the track, training, training and training. I was first in Spain, then Italy and finally some hard track training. I had fun when I was injured, so winter was just hard work. Since I got back on the bike it's just been everything for the sport and nothing else.