By now everyone knows that Jeffrey Herlings is injured and will be missing this weekend’s MXGP season opener at the MXGP of Argentina and the latest news has the #84 missing the first 3-4 MXGP rounds while recovering. That could make it nearly impossible for the defending MXGP World Champ to defend his title, and the rumors bringing Herlings to the US to contest the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship—that does not begin until May 18—are beginning to get more traction.
A month ago Jeffrey was asked about the possibility of coming to the AMA Nationals for 2019 and he said: “If I miss too many GPs in the beginning, the American championship could be interesting. That is a very highly regarded championship. And a title that I do not have yet. In Europe I won just about everything I could win. I have a contract to ride MXGP, I have no say in this situation. To be allowed to ride in America, I am dependent on the goodwill of KTM. First wait and see what the doctors say. If I’m only riding in five months, I will not get America either.”
Jeffrey talks about the goodwill of KTM being the only way he could come to the US for the Nationals and I think if he does jump the pond that KTM goodwill could extend to help out two other KTM riders in ’19: Antonio Cairoli and Marvin Musquin. Jeffrey coming to the US would make it easier for Cairoli to tie Stefan Everts all-time record mark of 10 World Championships, which would be huge for KTM as a brand. It could also possibly give Marvin Musquin the summer to get his nagging knee injury fixed. The only KTM rider it would not help is Cooper Webb, but the #2 has done well versus Jeffrey in the past and I think he would actually welcome the challenge.
How would Jeffrey do if he contested the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship? That all depends on how healthy Jeffrey is by May 18, but I have zero doubt that the Dutchman is the fastest man in the world at the moment. Personally, I have been watching professional MX closely since the late ’70’s and I have never seen anyone with Jeffrey’s raw speed. I think the 2017 Ironman National was a good sample of what Jeffrey could do in the 2019 AMA Nationals, but I also think he would elevate everyone. Guys like Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Blake Baggett and maybe even Webb would eventually find the World Champ’s pace, but over 24 motos I would give the nod to Jeffrey.