Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jeffrey Herlings has taken his 87th Grand Prix victory and moved a step closer to Antonio Cairoli with 89 GP wins and Stefan Everts on 101 GP wins. But the biggest fact is the rider known for his lightning speed but also for his injury list, came into 2020 with a different mindset. A mindset to finish where he finishes and not take the risk for a moto win or GP win.
We caught up with “The Bullet” and asked him about his weekend, Tim Gajser and much more.
The new philosophy of not trying to win everything and just take your points for the championship. We saw in the first race you were not pushing 100% and in the second one Tim got well ahead, but it wasn’t like you were really pushing to get past Antonio too quickly. Is the whole waiting game something that is a work in motion because normally you are 100% on it?
It makes life really easy because when I line up, a podium is a win for the championship. I have won so many races, I mean you should know, you are the statistics man.
You have 87 wins now, just two less than Tony.
Yes, and Tony had nine World championships and I have four so winning doesn’t always bring championships. Compared to that, I have won a lot of races. I always wanted to win and second-placed wasn’t on my radar, but I lost many titles from pushing too hard and injury. I am okay. The second moto the track was really sketchy, and I was happy to take a second. The sun was so low and just dangerous. In some places, you couldn’t even see the track from the sun. Next weekend we go to the next one and we need be at all 20 rounds. I mean that second race, it was the first time I could appreciate a second place and win the overall.
It must still be a learning process, though, to accept second? Tim was miles ahead of everyone. Did that feel okay for you?
I think we were 20 seconds down. I lost a lot not being able to get past Tony and I didn’t really have the chance to attack, Because of the shadows, I couldn’t see the track very well. You see in the US with Kenny [Roczen], he is so consistent. He is now equal with [Eli] Tomac for the points lead or you look at Tim over the years or Antonio all his championship years. [Cooper] Webb and [Jason] Anderson in America, they won championship being consistent. I need to learn that and accept second sometimes.
The track looked really rough. How was it compared to past years?
For Matterley, it was rough. The Nations [2018 MXoN] here it was also tough because it was raining a lot. It turned out not too bad. For the first moto, the track was really good and Infront and the organizers did a great job to get the track in perfect condition.
Now onto Valkenswaard. You have done alright at that place?
Eight wins I think right?
Yes, eight wins in 10 years.
I missed last year and got beaten one year. I am going for nine, so it isn’t looking so positive (smiling). I hope the weather is dry and we can have racing. Like this weekend. it turned out okay but if we had Friday weather on Sunday, it would have been bad. The forecast for Valkenswaard looks okay.
That podium? You, Tim and Tony with 16 World championships between you and 200 GP wins combined. That is an amazing tally for three guys.
It is pretty amazing being there with Tim and Tony. Tony is a legend of the sport and he is 34 and not even healthy, so a lot of respect to him. We did a great job for the Red Bull KTM Factory team for sure. We won Hawkstone and Lacapalle and to win the GP here is amazing.
Going back to that win by Tim, does that make you excited because you know he is also on it this year and we will see some great battles between you guys.
I felt like I couldn’t really race against him and I didn’t want to take risks. I don’t know how many risks he was taking, but he did great and he beat us fair and square. He had a great moto. If I was just behind him, maybe I didn’t have anything for him. If I was second maybe I didn’t have the risk to stay with him, because he had a great pace. He isn’t a three-time World champion for nothing. Three championships in 2016, 2018 and 2019, so he is a big contender for sure.
Ray Archer images