Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jeffrey Herlings is known as “The Bullet” for his amazing speed and today around the Motorsport Park Gelderland Midden in the center of The Netherlands, a relatively new motocross facility in Holland, the rider many still say is the fastest rider in the World looked sharp as he clocked lap after lap around this beautiful sand track.
While we went there for an interview with the track owner about a potential Dutch Grand Prix in possibly 2021, we couldn’t help but stop by and have a chat with the four-time World motocross champion as he slowly started his preparation for the comeback of the MXGP championship.
We talked about the facility, his gaining of weight, and his respect for brand new AMA supercross champion Eli Tomac. Always a good chat with The Flying Dutchman.
I actually came here today to interview the track owner, because I heard this is going to be the Dutch Grand Prix in 2021, have you heard anything about that?
I actually asked him, but he doesn’t want to tell me. He said nothing is sure yet, but he has been my sponsor in the past and he is a long-term friend. It would be amazing to have a Grand Prix here and maybe even two, that would be great.
Obviously, you will miss Valkenswaard, if they did move it to here?
Yes, I won there nine times now and it would be good to win it 10 times. I think that would be a new record as well, but I like this track, and I also like Valkenswaard, so either is good for me.
We spoke a month or two ago, at the start of the lockdown, how have you been lately?
Yes, I mean I am riding now five or six weeks, but we did take two or three months off, because as you know living in Holland everything was closed, tracks, events, everything. Now we are back it is weird not knowing when you really need to be ready and when you need to be in sharp. I mean the goal is still to be World champion, but we don’t know when the season restarts, could be July, could be August, could be September. Maybe we don’t race at all this year, so it is difficult knowing right now.
With this period not being the normal pushing hard to prepare for something, can you work on some things maybe you haven’t worked on before, because there is no pressure to be ready in a month or whatever?
Yes, it is weird, because this is my second summer off, because last year I had a bad injury and now this. It is just weird having a summer off again.
It is the sort of luck you have.
Yes, but I wish we were just racing. All sponsors and team players want to race like they are in America. One way or another I want us to race, with crowds or without, because this isn’t good for the sport to have no racing.
Are you planning on doing any of these races in Czech Republic in the coming weeks?
For the moment we haven’t planned anything until we know the GP calendar. If we start in September, maybe we do some raced at the start of August. For now, nothing is planned, so we don’t have a plan until a clear calendar comes out, because lately the calendar kept changing. I know it is hard to make a calendar with everything that is happening in the World, but hopefully the next calendar is the one that is going to happen.
I know you are busy with your weight all the time and you had those two months off riding, did you put on much weight?
I put in six or seven kilos and I didn’t lose it yet. I feel comfortable with my current weight and I won’t lose it yet, only when we start racing. I don’t get sick that quick, because normally I am like 5% fat and now, I am 10 or 11%. Once we start training more, we will have the right weight again.
The supercross has been good with two races a week, I have really enjoyed that. Have you been watching the supercross at all?
I have watched the whole program last night because the time frame was good for us, I think it started at like 7pm or something until 12 o’clock at night and I haven’t seen such good racing with everything that went on in the 250 class. It was crazy what happened to Sexton and then the 250 main event with Forkner going down and a red flag while McEllrath was leading, so it was really exciting. The 450s the track was hard and slick, so it was difficult I believe and a bummer for Anderson losing his seat while leading, but great seeing Osborne win his first main event in the 450 class.
Tomac has been seen as being a bit brittle at times and seemed to have trouble with pressure, but these Salt Lake City rounds he looked rock solid from the very start. Did he impress you?
You know, I used to battle with him and him with me and he is an awesome athlete. He could be on top of his game when it is his night and I don’t think anyone in the World can match his speed when he is like that, not Jeffrey Herlings, not anyone else. I think even Villopoto and even Stewart would have trouble with him, but he did have his bad days and that is why I think he lost the championship in the past, but this year he was consistent. We can all agree this isn’t the days of Chad Reed, James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey, but still, winning a championship in this day isn’t easy and he did a great job. I really enjoyed watching these races.