Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jeffrey Herlings is edging closer to his fourth world motocross championship and his goal of 101 Grand Prix victories. The Dutchman has been on fire of late, and as we mentioned in our report yesterday, he picked up his 80th GP victory and extended his MXGP championship points lead over defending champion Antonio Cairoli.
We caught up with Herlings and asked him about his weekend, his strict training program, and of course his decision which class he will race at the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations, something that hasn’t been decided yet.
Pretty good weekend?
Herlings: Yes, a pretty good weekend. Bad luck yesterday in qualification, I was fastest in both times practices, and in the race, I was second and went to go around the outside of Tim, and gave extra gas and save his spot, and we went elbow and elbow and I tipped over. This track is hard to pass, and I got up to sixth, which was important. The first moto I got around Clement early and did my own race. Same thing in the second moto, but Clement was riding well and I got into second and I tried to pass Clement, but then Romain came close and I needed to make the move and managed to win the moto and get 50 points. My nearest rival didn’t have a great GP. He crashed, and I hope he is 100% okay. I can’t wait for Bulgaria next weekend.
80th GP victory so far, but what is the goal for the rest of the season?
21 GP wins to go (to pass Stefan Everts). Its been pretty impressive. We are 16 rounds in and I have won 13, and two times second, just off the podium once. That was because I wasn’t there. Ottobiano is one of my favorite tracks, so I would have liked to have raced there. I don’t care if I win the championship by one point or 100. I have been living like a monk this year, but the quicker I win it the better.
Jeffrey, another 1-1 result and a perfect weekend. Can you keep reeling these off and get it done for Assen you think?
First of all, I shouldn’t get injured, that is the main thing, and second, I should keep this amount amount of points, or I could even lose seven or eight, but I don’t want to think about it too much, because a lot of things can still happen. Anything can happen, and we just want to keep going and see where it takes us.
In the press conference you mentioned you train like a monster and you want to get 101 GP wins, to pass Stefan Everts total. How long can you keep up this regime of training that you do. Will you eventually have to tone it down to be able to continue at this level?
It is tough, to do this life. Work you butt off every day, two or three times a day, with all the pressure and the expectations, to try and live with the results what people expect. You know, I have been doing it from a young age, but nothing like I am doing now. I have been to Aldon (Baker) and I see what they do, and I do it similar to them, but maybe even more, so I am hard on myself, and I am hard in life, but it would be hard to do this for another 10 years.
And no matter what happens in 2018, you start all over again in 2019. What about the competition, you think the can lift their game to compete with you? Maybe they need to work harder? Or, if you maintain your level, the level you are riding at the moment, are you not too worried about them?
You always ride the level you need to ride. If other guys lift their level, then I try and do the same. I am convinced that the level will go up, because if you look at the last 20 years, the level has always improved and for sure the last few years in MXGP. So I know next year will be even tougher than this year. Its gotten more professional, so to keep winning I need to sacrifice a lot and work hard. I have a great team behind me and the bike is perfect. KTM is like a family with me and all the years of partnership has helped me a lot, so give it up to the Red Bull KTM Factory team.
Motocross of Nations, you have been selected, but it isn’t known yet what class you will race. When will that be decided?
I am riding the 450 but haven’t decided which class. Obviously, it is me, Calvin and Glenn and Calvin will ride MX2 and either Glenn or I will race MXGP or the Open class, but we haven’t decided yet. I don’t mind which class I race, but its up to the Federation.
You had raced the open class in the past.
Yes, because I am pretty fit, and it gives Glenn a longer time to recover from the MXGP moto. Normally the class is similar, maybe MXGP is tougher, but I don’t know which class Tomac and Roczen are riding, maybe the MXGP class.
Obviously the hype is about you and Tomac and against Roczen. You got to be excited about that as a racer, right?
Definitely, I am looking forward to it and our main thing is to win this championship and then look at the des Nations. Of course Tomac wants to win his championship and I want to win mine and this is just a one-off race. Its important, but I won’t lose any sleep if I get beaten there. Our priority is to win the world championship.
Photos by: Ray Archer