Jeffrey Herlings isn’t holding up, still giving it everything he has, and his domination of world motocross continued in his beloved Lommel last weekend. Herlings went 1-1, and was really not riding 100%, yet made his competition look rather average, despite the fact the MXGP class is anything but average.
We caught up with “the Bullet” and asked him about his weekend and his current run of great form and results.
79th GP win?
Yes, I think my 79th.
It seems yesterday, during times training and qualification that you were riding well below your fastest, maybe even 50%. And also today, you didn’t always seem fully on it. How was that for you?
I mean yesterday I wanted to save energy, and even in the first moto today (Sunday), I didn’t want to go over, the second moto I was probably around 90%. I didn’t want to go over, because it was hot, and I didn’t want to try and lap the full field or anything like that. The first moto I just wanted a good lead, so if I did make a small crash I could still get up and that is what happened. I was up to 20 seconds ahead and tipped over and lost 10 seconds, but still won with 10 seconds plus. The second moto I wanted to put myself in a good position and I wanted to charge. You know it’s the last moto of the weekend and you can go all out, but still I didn’t go over say 90%. Stay in control and that is what we did.
There was a moment in the second moto that you got away, and then Antonio seemed to catch you a little bit. Is that why you turned it up a little?
I didn’t really notice, I tried to push from the beginning, and I didn’t notice, I felt like I was making the gap bigger, but maybe some laps I made a small mistake or had trouble with a lapped rider. Mainly I wad trying to pull away and I did a lot of laps.
What happened with Van Berkel in that second moto, when you passed him and then you went down?
It wasn’t that he was riding in my way and I still tried to pass him, and I had a good flow, and it didn’t have anything to do with him, just a small crash and I lost only five seconds, so it was okay.
How was the track this year compared to other years, because we have had some seriously warm weather leading in Lommel?
It seemed flatter than normal and today it was around 30 degrees, but I didn’t even get tired, because the track wasn’t as demanding as the des Nations here, or any other years.
Only a handful of rounds to go. Had you not missed Ottobiano, your lead would be around 100 points and you would just have a couple of rounds to go for the title win. Do you get more excited the closer we are getting to the end of the season, or you still just focused on the job at hand?
It just makes me cry when I think about that. I mean had I just had equal points to Tony that weekend I would be like 86 points ahead and I could have gone safe mode into the last four rounds, but now, I still need to push, and even if I get five times second, I should still win the championship, but the plan is to fight for the win, not to go safe. If I don’t feel right, and I don’t think I can get the win, then I won’t go for it. A 2-3 is ok, rather than put myself in a bad situation.
At least you have to stay focused, because in the past, its been the focus maybe that hasn’t been there when you have a 100-point lead?
Not really, even though it seems like that. If you look at my history, I have 79 GPs, but only three championships. So it isn’t the way it should be, with that many race wins, you should have more championships. You know, it seems like I am either fighting for the win or sitting on the couch with an injury. The last few years I am more decent, but three times a broken collarbone and other things, but hopefully that is over now.
12 GP wins from the 14 you have ridden, and it seems like you are back on that MX2 form, where you are the only guy who matters. Does it feel like that a bit, like you are back on that MX2 form?
Not really, you still have Tony, who might be 32 years old, but he has so much experience and you never know what to expect from him. He is a good starter and with this guy, it isn’t over until its over, so maybe Imola and Assen.
As fans we get to watch you every weekend, and we see you and can’t believe some of the stuff you are doing. Its really different from anything we have seen before. Can you sit back, watch the videos and highlights and also enjoy seeing what you do on a bike?
When I see those videos, I am like, hey, this is a gnarly dude. I think I am naturally gifted, but I also work really hard for what I do and it’s a combination of all those things.
Last question. Switzerland is the next one and it is a track maybe you like a little?
Yes, I look forward to it. Last year we had a bit of luck with the rain we had, because most likely this year they need to water it a lot and rip it, to get some lines. Switzerland isn’t one of my favourites, but we then head to Bulgaria, which is a nice track, and also Turkey is meant to be a nice one. For me it doesn’t matter where we go, but tracks I didn’t like, like Russia, Arco and Loket, I won all three of them and I didn’t like those tracks, so we will see.