Photos by: Ray Archer
Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jeffrey Herlings is looking to take his third World MX2 championship in 2016, and as of now he is on track to join the likes of Gaston Rahier, Harry Everts and Alessio Chiodi as a three-time champ in the small bike class. Ray Archer images
After three rounds, he has a lead of 38 points over KTM team-mate Pauls Jonass and Suzuki rider Jeremy Seewer. As Herlings knows better than anyone, winning a championship can be hard work, having missed out in 2014 and 2015 despite being the fastest MX2 rider in the world.
Last weekend, the Flying Dutchman took GP win number 50, and also scored his seventh GP win at Valkenswaard (in a row). These are things that place him very close to the legends list, a rather high place that only a dozen or so riders belong.
We caught up with Herlings and asked him about his weekend in Valkenswaard and where he is as far as being 100%.
Jeffrey, you come into Valkenswaard with such a record, and you mentioned yourself it was an easy win. So how do you motivate yourself when you know it’s going to be rather easy?
I mean, the race isn’t over until the fat lady sings. It looked easy, but we put in a lot of work behind the scenes. I think we did good work on the bike—we have a perfect bike right now and I feel 100% fine. I think we are back to where we were before I broke my femur a couple of years ago. Obviously, the competition isn’t as strong and with [Dylan] Ferrandis being out, but that happens. I am looking forward to Argentina now.
You had a lot of support once again. You have a massive fan base in Holland don’t you?
I am so grateful to the spectators who supported me this year and have supported me for the last seven years. It was important for me to show them what I am capable of here this weekend.
How is your mind set as far as your previous two years go? Do you ride without thought of all those injuries?
I mean, you never forget those injuries. A broken femur and dislocating my hip were two big injuries. The others were just small injuries, but it happened by making stupid mistakes on a motorcycle. Sweden and Germany happened because I was too impatient and wanted to be up front too quickly.
But you do seem to ride smarter now.
First moto Pauls [Jonass] took the holeshot, and I just took my time and didn’t rush anything. I knew it was going to be a long moto, and that is something I forgot in the past. You can only blow it in the first lap and that is something I think about a lot.
The track really took a lot of water on race day. How was the track for the two moto’s?
Second moto was better. It got better every lap from the first lap until the last lap on the weekend. We had a big shower just before our first moto, and the track was really slick and wet, but we made the best of it.
Did they flatten the bumps out before the opening moto, because it looked really flat compared to previous years?
I think the rain flattened everything out. The second moto, they flattened it a little more for the second moto, but it was good. Gnarly in some places, but it’s a sand race and we expect that. Sand races should be like this, but they did a great job with the track.
50 GP wins, and seven in a row. Will you celebrate your weekend?
There isn’t much to celebrate, it’s not like a world championship or anything and before you know it we are on a plane to Argentina. We don’t do anything special, maybe go out for a meal with my friends, or with the family or team.
You mentioned on Sunday about inviting your team and friends around for dinner at your new house. I would love to know how you got the cooking organized.
Man, we went to a cafeteria and got French fries—you should know that man. That’s a bit of a tradition in Holland. You don’t find that in so many places around the world. It was the team members and people close to me. My house is like 45 minutes from Valkenswaard, so it was a nice chance for them to have a look at my house and have dinner.