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Jeffrey Herlings interview - Progress

Jeffrey Herlings interview - Progress

May 14

  • Interview

Already a legend of the sport, Jeffrey Herlings of the Red Bull KTM Factory team doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. Most GP wins in the history of the sport, most moto wins in the history of the sport and five World motocross championships. His place in the folk-law of Grand Prix motocross is etched into stone and while “The Bullet” could have easily been the greatest of all time, had it not been for his brittle bones, his achievements are impressive.

Having won his first Grand Prix back in his rookie MX2 season, back in 2010, it is now 15th year in GP motocross, and we all know, from the past, which is much closer to the end, than the start. Stefan Everts lasted 18 years, Antonio Cairoli 18 years, so the end is near for the Dutchman.

Having not raced for most of the last two seasons, his mind and body is taking a little longer to warm up, he has always been a diesel, but now, at nearly 30 years of age, it takes time. His showed in Portugal, he can win motos again and should have probably won the GP, he also finished second to Jorge Prado last weekend, but is honest enough to know, that he wasn’t beating the Spaniard in Lugo, but he was at least second in the GP.

Now, as we head to St Jean d’Angely in France, he knows as well as anyone, he has to start pulling back that 50 something lead that Prado has over him. We sat down with my favourite rider and asked him about his weekend and how he is feeling.

MXLarge: Best result of the season and on the back of a GP you could have won. How does it feel at the moment?

Herlings: When you lose a GP and its your fault, okay, but when you lose a GP and it isn’t your fault, which is a shame. I would have loved to have won last weekend, and I would have been less points behind, but it is what it is. Saturday, I holeshot and I froze, I don’t know what it was. I got arm-pump and that is what it was. Sunday, first moto wasn’t good at all, and I didn’t get a holeshot and that is a Jorge thing. I had to come from way back and I take it like it is. Pretty pumped, second podium of the year, not a win yet, but it will come.

MXLarge: You are looking better?

Herlings: Yes, I took such a good start I hit the gate and nearly drove it out of the ground. I am looking forward to France. I have closed the gap to the other guys, and I still don’t have the speed of Jorge, but I am getting there. At least, where you look where I was in Argentina, and now, I am making progress.

MXLarge: On one hand, you still look happy, despite not winning. Maybe that is that your life is good at the moment, maybe something else, I don’t know, but its good to see your smiling. How do you feel, because at times, you look like the old Jeffrey on the track, but Jorge is just too good at the moment?

Herlings: Jorge is good, but people forget, 10 years ago, the oppositions wasn’t that high, there were not as many competitive teams, there wasn’t as much money involved. Times change, yes, maybe I am not as good as I used to be, I am also not 18 anymore, I am 30 in four months from now, but Jorge is good. As I said in the press conference, I haven’t raced at all in 2022, I didn’t race much in 2023, because I was injured almost half of the season. That is what I am missing, and you see that in the intensity, it is getting better, but still, it’s off. My age isn’t helping, but I have shown on multiple occasions, like last week in Portugal, also in Arco, I showed today, I have shown on occasions I have to speed to win, but I haven’t clicked it all together yet.

MXlarge: Do you still have faith in coming back and winning?

Herlings: I still believe in the championship, and I know it is very far away and I am not just battling one guy, I am battling three guys. If I didn’t have that DNF in Portugal, which was out of my hands, I would only be 25 points down and even 50 points with 14 more races, so 42 motos. A lot of racing still ahead but let’s wait and see. I didn’t lose much in Portugal, I didn’t lose much this weekend, but there comes a time, if I want to be competitive, I have to start winning. I can keep finding excuses and I am not making excuses; I just need to click it all together. Like yesterday (Saturday) I took a holeshot and still messed up, so. The bike is good, the team is good, it is my own hands now.

MXLarge: I was thinking this weekend, I think you and I am similar in our opinion in Jett Lawrence and I really thought he is the fastest rider on the planet and in Supercross he is, but with this level in MXGP at the moment and the fact his competition won’t be anything like Prado, Gajser, Febvre and Herlings, I feel like come Matterley Basin in October, you four, if all fit, will have something for him. I didn’t think that maybe a month or two ago. What do you think now?

Herlings: Yes, I have been very outspoken and I have said it, that I felt Jett Lawrence is the fastest guy on the planet, but right now, I don’t know if this guy, I mean, I am a huge fan of Jett (Lawrence), but I am not convinced he would go from P10 to P1 in this MXGP field. There are already a couple of guys injured, like Renaux, Geerts, Fernandez, but the heavy hitters are still here, me, Jorge, Tim, Febvre. Of course, supercross is important for them, maybe outdoors less important, Tomac is out injured.

MXlarge: Webb is also out now.

Herlings: Is Webb out injured, oh, I didn’t know that. Then its going to be a walk in the park for Jett. Just Chase now. I believe the speed we are racing is faster than last year, but it seems we get fastest every year. Jorge is the guy to beat here. Tim is good, but Jorge has the complete picture. He gets the starts, he his fast, he is consistent, for me, Jorge is the guy to beat and not really Tim. Even though Tim is close in the points, just from being consistent. Of course, Jorge missed out on many points last weekend, but Jorge is going to be the guy, I guess.

MXlarge: After Trentino, where you all had good speed, you and Romain and Tim, and then Portugal, you all beat Jorge at some point, the momentum changed dramatically. Did you come here thinking you would beat him or keep that momentum going.

Herlings: I came here thinking I need a podium. A win, which is pretty high still, but a podium, I should be capable of that. It should be the same in France you know. If I didn’t get a podium here, that was a very disappointing result here. A start crash or whatever, then that all changes, but I am ready for a podium now. The first two or three rounds, I wasn’t ready for a podium, my intensity wasn’t even close to doing that. I feel I am a podium guy, and I am not a winning guy yet, but podiums I should be making now all the time.

MXLarge: I know John (Van Den Berk) who you trained with in the winter said you won’t be ready to win until around rounds five or six, maybe the rib injury slowed that up, but it is time to get some wins isn’t it?

Herlings: Yes, in Sardinia I had that small crash, and the throttle cable went into my ribs, and I broke four ribs. In the MXGP hospital they said it was bruised and then I found out three weeks later, I had broken four ribs. I don’t have much pain now. At the beginning I couldn’t practice, just racing, so no practice.

MXlarge: Going into France, same mentality, major points and maybe a podium?

Herlings: Yes, I will be happy with a podium, but I need to get my starts together, if I don’t start with Jorge, if I am not top three in the start, then he is gone, and I am not catching him. I don’t have the speed of him, maybe the same speed on a good day, but I don’t have the speed to catch him and pass him. In the second moto I came from P8 or P9 and I got second, but not enough to win. I need to start with him, then I can win again.

MXLarge: Your speed in that second moto was impressive, you were like 41, 41, 41 (lap times), so close to being the best lap of the day, amazing the speed you found again.

Herlings: At times, some motos are good, some are not good. Yesterday I got the holeshot and I just froze. First moto was good, but the second moto I came from around 12th, and I passed everyone on the triple. I feel like the speed is coming back. I was fastest at times here and in Portugal. I am training alone, and you can’t get that intensity, only in racing. That is why I am doing many races to try and get the intensity. I am thankful Romain did the Dutch race, because we battled close and that is good for my intensity.

MXLarge: Jeffrey, you head to St Jean, where you have won there, I think four times. What do you think of going there?

Herlings: First of all, this track this weekend was really nice, but coming to St Jean, you can love it or hate it. I see the weather conditions don’t look too great for now, so it can go either way, be great or a lottery like in Portugal. We will see, I hope it is a good GP again.

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