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Interview: Jeffrey Herlings – improvement!

Interview: Jeffrey Herlings – improvement!

It’s small steps for Jeffrey Herlings who was much improved from Argentina but just missed the podium after tie-break with Romain Febvre. Honest as always, a relaxed Herlings spoke to us about his weekend, how he needs to improve to beat Prado and his future in racing. Read or watch below:

Jeffrey, almost a Podium this weekend, an improvement on Argentina, how do you sum it up and also Argentina, it looked like you were just like, ‘this track is dangerous just get me out of here safe.’

Yeah, actually both tracks were not that great. I mean this track could have been way better but just from the organizational side I think they ruined the track. like as you seen, rarely any people passed. Just all on track prep you know, they should look at America and how good they do it. But yeah I think the track in Argentina was pretty sketchy this one was less sketchy.

Just for racing I think it wasn’t nice to watch on TV. I watched MX2 class, people just following, just the track wasn’t really open to pass but for me that was not an excuse because, yeah, I think I didn’t have anything for Prado anyway. I felt sick all weekend so that wasn’t fun, every time I I ate it just went straight out and I felt like I didn’t have any energy left by by the second motor and you can see on my riding, I was just riding and that’s it, there was not much fight in there anymore. So yeah, put our heads down, hopefully Sardinia be a bit better again. I mean we had even points with Febvre for third so I was not on the podium but I matched his points.

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I’m still not where we want to be we’re far off Prado right now, he’s just good man, he’s like really, really good. So to try to challenge him or beat him, we have to put our heads down and work hard.

By work what do you mean? Like do you work like, ‘I need to increase my corner speed,’ ‘I need to work on the bike,’ or obviously starts – what specifically will you work on the next few weeks to get to Prado’s level?

I need everything better! I think my physical side is good, I need I need a bit more speed, I need better starts. I mean I did a few good starts like Hawkstone I took two holehhots, on the Dutch races I took two really good starts, I took holeshots so it’s basically on the weekend.

You know I was always next to Prado and he’s just like a great starter and he every time went to the right and then he messed up my start. But you know, I knew that when I line up next to him he always goes a bit to the right and he opens up for the first turn, so I knew it. It’s not like any excuse or anything and yeah, even if I would have taken a holeshot today, I would have nothing for him so it’s all right you know we were again way better than Argentina and next step is podium, hopefully.

Is it easier for you to accept not being the fastest because you’ve always pretty much been the fastest guy since you were probably two! Is part of you still angry that you’re not the fastest and the other part going just be calm, how is that for you mentally?

It’s hard, because right now also n the hot laps, like in time practice, I was a second off and I thought like when I went I crossed the finish line and I did the lap, I was like, ‘oh this is basically all I got for now,’ and I was still like 1 second off! So I mean, I’m not getting any younger, I’m 30 almost and you see the same with Tomac, I mean he’s been the fastest for 10 years and now just you know things, they change, you know? So let’s hope he (Prado) goes to US, at least he’s gone next year!

Can we talk about these qualifying races? Argentinia you nearly got landed on you, obviously Prado at the start yesterday but then that head shake going into that corner – two heart-stopping moments and both coming in these qualifying races!

I don’t even understand, MXGP should really take a lesson from AMA Supercross and motocross, just a one day event. Like that Championship, they’re like halfway in and I don’t even know who’s injured right now. I don’t even think that there is a guy injured like from the top guys. Here already, half of the paddoc like like Guadagnini is out Renaux is out, Fernandez is out, Geerts is out – just in the first two races. So they should see one light start come on, like, ‘hey what are we doing wrong,?’

But yeah if it keeps going like this, at some point there’s no riders almost left you know? Van Doninck breaking his his leg so, I just think that their organization, I mean our organization is not bad I’m not saying it’s bad in MXGP but I think the way they they prep the tracks, they’re more safe way better for passing and yeah they should just look at it and and try to yeah copy what they’re doing (AMA).

Image: Ray Archer

The sand is next, so do you feel extra pressure to win that and are you looking at points already or are you pretty relaxed about everything becauseyou’re improving week to week?

I’m just losing every single moto mate, I’m like every single moto I’m just losing like five points or something, so right now I don’t even know how much I’m be like 25 or 30 I guess. I don’t know, I don’t even know, but yeah there’s a lot of a lot of work to do. I mean it’s just such a long Championship, there’s like 54 motos to go so even if you’re 30 points down on a 54 moto championship you know it’s it’s not good but I mean you know, I have had years I was I was leading by 150 points and I still lost the championship. like honestly, two years in a row, so it doesn’t mean a thing. But also right now I need to be honest, like Gajser and and manly Prado is just faster, so yeah, it is what it is.

It feels like you’re still enjoying this, you’re enjoying the challenge so whenever you quit racing what what will you do to fulfill this void that will probably because you don’t really know anything else and you’ve always been the best at it?

MX Large’s Geoff Meyer interjects and says “spend money!”

Jeffrey laughs… “Spend money and eat hamburgers! No I don’t know.”

Like do you think about that now that you’re getting older or are you just focusing racing?

Like I I always said, this might be my last contract but now, once it’s coming closer, because actually my contract finishes at the end of next year, I’m like, ‘ I’m still doing okay, I’m still like a top five guy and actually I could be a top three guy when I’m in a better shape,’ There so many brands attending the mxgp at some point like Triumph coming to MXGP, Ducati coming, then you have the Gas Gas, KTM, Kawasaki, Honda, Beta – there’s so many Brands coming. So I’m like yeah like why why would I stop at the end of next year? Okay, definitely if you if I get big injuries again yeah, different story, but I mean for now I I don’t know. I don’t want to do it till I’m 35 but I’m not saying I want to stop already next year, I think it’s a bit it’s a bit early and as long as I’m still within top three/top five, I should be okay.

And maybe a year in America or something like Cairoli did?

I don’t know, for sure no supercross because I am too old to learn that, but yeah maybe Nationals but but if I look at Lawrence, right I’m not even able to beat Prado yet then I have no chance against Lawrence because he’s he’s a next level guy, so as long as he’s racing I’m not coming! (laughs)

Final question, most people here and anybody that’s watched you ride on your guy’s level can’t understand how you go so fast so a) do you understand how you go so fast and b) do you not understand how everyone else is so slow and I don’t even mean GP guys, I mean like if you go to a club race do you go. ‘why are you going so slow?!’ Because it’s the opposite (thinking) for you!

Yeah, but I respect those guys they’re ride for fun. They work from 8 to 5 Monday to Friday, they go ride on a on a weekend day on a Wednesday evening or whatever just for fun, so it’s different, I respect them because thanks to those people they buy bikes, they buy parts thanks to them we have a living out of the sport. You know, we need people to buy the bikes, if not, the bike brands go bankrupt so no, I really respect those people and I respect the fans just coming out to the races because thanks to them we are having a job like me, you the riders, athletes, team members.

Interview: Jonathan McCready

Images: Ray Archer