Red Bull KTM Factory rider, Jeffrey Herlings is just days away from becoming a four-time World Motocross Champion. The Dutchman swept aside his opposition again last weekend in Turkey, as he continues what has been his most dominant season of his career. Crazy to think this domination is even more so than in his MX2 days.
With his 82nd GP win last weekend, he could finish the season with 84 GP wins, just a single GP win behind Antonio Cairoli in the all time list, incredible when you consider Cairoli is 32 and Herlings just 23. The 101 GP wins of Stefan Everts seems in big danger, and even with just a couple more world titles Herlings will pass names like DeCoster, Smets, Geboers and Jobe in the all-time list. He could do it all by the age of 25 if he continues this ridiculous run of success.
Working harder than ever, and with the risk of injury always around the corner, Herlings knows that just five points stand between him and another crown and that crown will come in his home country of The Netherlands a rightly so in the deep sand of Assen.
Known worldwide as the place MotoGP enjoys crowds of hundreds of thousands of people, you can be sure we might see the biggest crowd ever at the Assen MXGP round, with an expected 50,000 people arriving at the circuit to celebrate the NEW king of World motocross.
How do you feel your weekend went and how did you enjoy the Turkish experience?
It was really awesome. I thought the track was really nice, I was surprised how it developed during the weekend. I mean, there were only two classes, MXGP and MX2, so I thought it would be really flat for racing. But it developed really good, also with watering, I can’t speak for MX2, but for us the track was primed and perfect. I really liked the track, and it was a good weekend, obviously my riding wasn’t great, but we managed to win the qualifying heat and we managed to win both motos, so maybe not in dominant form, but even if I won by a minute, or a few seconds, they didn’t give me more points. I did a great job for the championship from 76 to 95 points. To miss one GP and be leading by this amount of points is amazing I think. We missed Ottobiano, and from 18 GPs I have raced 17, won 15 and twice second, so until now, we can look back on a great season and hope we finish off strong in Assen. I am already not sleeping good for the last few weeks, so the next two weeks will be even more stressful, but you know, I am so close and I have worked so hard to achieve this and I don’t want to mess this up.
It doesn’t get much better than that?
Absolutely a great weekend for me and that’s ‘three in a row’ of Qualification Heat and both moto wins, so I have to say a big thank you to the team for their great job: they have made a great sacrifice and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’m looking forward to Assen because we are really close to the championship now and I hope to finish it off. Like I said, it will be a dream come true to win it at my home GP. The chances of taking this title during a rider’s career are small anyway but to potentially do it in my home country would be amazing. We’ll just go out, do our best and try to stay healthy to get it done.
Saturday you controlled the qualification race, but you didn’t feel well?
I took a good start, I managed to take the holeshot and checked out, but around lap four or five, I started getting sick, probably something in the food, I think I just ate something wrong for lunch. At that point I just wanted to play it safe for the win. I just controlled because I didn’t feel well.
Going into the weekend you had a chance to win the championship, but now going to Assen, how will it be going there?
Whenever I have the chance to win the championship, I will take it, because I have missed it multiple times, so if the chance comes I will not let it go and the quicker the better. It isn’t over until it’s over and the main thing is to stay on two wheels and not take a risk. I can lose the championship by getting injured or making a big mistake. To win in Assen is something that would be great and something that doesn’t happen often in your career.
What will you be doing the next two weeks, you don’t want to be out training too much and crash potentially? How do you balance, from keeping in the right race shape to not overdoing it?
Probably I won’t get out of the house in the coming two weeks. I am definitely going to ride, but if I go riding and I have a small crash and break my hand, its not again, but not ride for two weeks, that is a bit extreme as well. We will talk to the team and make the risk as small as possible. If it is meant to be its meant to be, if the man above wants me to win the championship or not, so I leave it to the man above. One thing is for sure, if you win 15 out of 17 races I normally should deserve to win the championship. We try to make it happen, the competition is so strong, these guys who are sitting next to me, or Romain, and especially Tony (Cairoli), all season. It was a crazy year so far and very intense with the travelling and everything. It is pretty impressive how fast the guys all are and I think at the Nations, people will be shocked, not me, but also a guy like Tim or Clement and Tony and those guys will be. The level is very high at the moment.