Jeffrey Herlings didn’t have it all his own way at Hawkstone Park but he still came away with three moto wins despite some stiff competition from his teammate, Glenn Coldenhoff!
Herlings, in his first pre-season race of the year following his start crash the week before in Italy, showed a lot of patience as he rode steadily and waited for his opportunity to make the pass on Coldenhoff in the races.
Now with three motos in the books in the tough, rutted conditions, Herlings has one more race next week in France before the season kicks-off for real in Argentina for the first round of the world championship.
The Dutchman was in good spirits at Hawkstone, patiently standing in the snow at the end of a busy day signing autographs for young kids who were thrilled to get some time and a selfie with their hero.
Herlings then agreed to give us a few minutes of his time despite the freezing conditions to talk about his day at Hawkstone.
A good day but a tough day for you!
Yeah obviously we won all three motos which was good, the weather was a bit unpredictable sometimes it was raining or snowing, but we made the best of the situation and the team did a good job over the winter to build a good bike. Me and Glenn were first and second all the time out of the gate – unfortunately I was second all the time!
We still have a few weeks to get ready for the season but the track was good for the weather we had but it was pretty one-lined because it rained, so it was tough to overtake and make a pass, but I am looking forward to Argentina to see what we can do.
That first turn crash last week looked pretty scary, were you thinking, ‘oh no not again?!”
Yeah but that’s racing! When you make that many starts, 20 GPs three starts a weekend and all the other races so that’s 70 or 80 starts a year and if you crash once or twice, it’s possible, it’s part of the job and part of the risk.
I was actually fine just some skin was off here and there on my back because somebody ran me over but the handlebars were bent with getting run-over and I couldn’t really finish the race, then I wasn’t allowed to race the Superfinal because I wasn’t in the top 20, so it was short day!
Coming into Argentina, Cairoli looked good last weekend, do you feel you will be 100% for there even though you missed last week’s motos in Italy?
I don’t think those two motos will make that much difference. We have had a perfect winter and stayed away from injuries so I am really looking forward to it. Last year we started off not in a good way because we were injured but hopefully this year we will be good.
With 19 or 20 GPs now, do you have to hold something back to be there for the whole season?
No, we finished off really strong last season but this year is a new year and everyone is sharp again because half way through the season everyone knows who will be win, be second, third, fourth. Now everyone starts at zero and there will be a lot of motivated riders and everyone wants to win, it will be a nice race (Argentina) but a tough one.
And any plans to race another US National this year!?
Not for the moment but if we make a decision like that it will be last minute again.
On that race, was it a big win for you to get the respect over there and show how good you are and also for the world championship?
Well obviously if I had gone there and finished 15th and 12th it would have been a big disaster! But to go out there and win the first moto in a dominant way, be fastest in both practices and the second moto to pick myself up from dead last to win, that was something special, obviously the yanks will remember me for a while now!
How did you feel your rivals and the US fans took to you there?
The fans were very nice to me and the track was really nice as well. It was the first time I raced an AMA national but the way they prep the track, you could literally overtake anywhere and sometimes in GPs we struggle with that.
We have some big facilities like Argentina where you have many places to pass but when you get to Italy for expample in Arco di Trento it’s pretty tough to pass and I don’t mean just from my side- many riders talk about it. But that makes the world championship, I think we have some tougher and more technical tracks like Arco and Czech, some deep sand tracks and hard-pack. In America the dirt is pretty much the same so obviously they have really good dirt but we have, planet earth, let’s say!
But we have to be good this year (on all GP tracks) and I will try to do that.
Interview: Jonathan McCready
Pics: Jonathan McCready & Scott Dunne