Jonathan McCready: It’s been the big story of the last week with Jeffrey Herlings apparently subtly hinting that he is thinking of racing the US Nationals in 2019 if his foot doesn’t heal in time to race for another MXGP world title.
I think it would be a great idea, but only if he can’t race the second round of the MXGP series. Herlings is so good, that if he only missed Argentina he is more than capable at still challenging for the title and taking his fifth world crown. As good as the AMA series is, the MXGP series is still the most prestigious motocross series in the world and the biggest motocross title you can win.
But if the healing doesn’t go to plan and doctors advise he needs more time off then I feel it is the perfect plan B. It means the Dutchman will still get to go for a big title and keep his motivation very high as oppose to racing a season with no title achieveable. It is also probably the only opportunity he will have for an AMA title in his career, an unexpected bonus title if you will, that would prove a big feather in his cap if he can pull of a championship in the backyard of the Americans.
With the US series not starting until the 18th of May at Hangtown it gives Herlings the more time to fully prepare and we know Herlings’ preparation is key for his mindset before the races. With a week off every three or four weeks, he could even fly home at every break in the series if homesickness is an issue.
It will give added intrigue to the US series with the world champ taking part. but if Herlings does go, maybe Eli Tomac should sign an agreement that he will reciprocate Herlings’ bravery to race him in his own country by vowing Herlings in his home country, the Dutch Masters, and then the more neutral world motocross championship!
Only then would we really find out where Tomac lies amongst the best motocross riders in the world when he isn’t racing in his own country – but he certainly should give Herlings a good run for his money in the USA.
The Americans plus Musquin and Roczen would be super motivated to beat their former rival especially after Herlings’ performances the states recently. It would be intense racing!
And in the world championship, the narrative would still be there with Cairoli’s chance to equal Stefan Everts record ten world titles and undoubtedly a lot of hungry riders keen on achieving a world title with Herlings not in contention.
Herlings of course will probably still make an appearance in a few GPs as well so he could still judge his pace against rival Cairoli.
It might just be the best move for all sides if Herlings doesn’t make the gate for the British GP, round two of MXGP on the 23/24th of March.
Andy McKinstry: I don’t think Herlings should go and race the AMA Nationals. Fingers crossed he can make it back for round two or three of the MXGP World Championship and if he does, it’s not impossible he can still win the series – he’s that good.
So, why shouldn’t Herlings go to AMA? Well, he’s currently racing the MXGP World Championship and racing the yanks every week in their home country would be very difficult. Could he win the title? Sure, of course he can but it wouldn’t be as easy as some people think. The American’s would have a huge advantage racing in their home country.
Herlings during his few races over there last year already blew the American fans away anyway and if he did contest the series and didn’t win they’d probably think he’s not as good as he is. There would be a lot for Herlings to lose.
Also, the American motocross media have only started to give the MXGP riders and series the respect it deserves. If Herlings went over and didn’t win the title we’d be back to square one in that respect.
Even if Herlings is out for for 5-6 rounds I am sure his team will want him to race the MXGP series so he can build his speed back up and test for the 2020 season!
By the end of the year, Herlings could also be very close to breaking the all time overall MXGP victories which he’ll no doubt want to achieve.
On the other side though, if Herlings does race the AMA series – it would produce some super battles and it would be good to watch. He’d also get to bang bars with an old arch rival – Ken Roczen!
Anyway, it could be a long six weeks of speculation before Herlings sees the doctor again but let’s hope he gets the best news possible and we can see him back in action soon.