Talking Point: Herlings injury

2022 has produced unwanted MXGP drama already. Just when the pre-season races kicked off and everyone starts to look forward once again to the MXGP series that ended in epic style in November at Mantova in a final day thriller, the victor that day and now the defending champ, Jeffrey Herlings, has been injured again.

Once more the crash came out of nowhere, just like the crash in 2020 during practice when he wasn’t pushing or the broken ankle in 2019 on the parade lap when Jasikonis ran over his foot. Three crashes and three injuries when he wasn’t even at race pace somewhat sums up the recent bad luck of Jeffrey Herlings (and that’s not even mentioning Monticelli landing on him and breaking his shoulder blade last year!).

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom just how it happens so often to him in these unlikely circumstances. A KTM photoshoot, as it was on this occasion, is not the place you normally expect an injury, although David Vuillemin did crack a shoulder blade doing a photo shoot when he was vying for a supercross title with Ricky Carmichael in 2002, but still, its an unlikely place to get injured and yet it still managed to happen to Jeffrey Herlings.

Herlings said of the crash: “We’re paying the price for a ‘nothing’ crash. I think I might have hit a small stone on the take-off and that put me over the bars. The impact was pretty big on my left foot and we needed to get it fixed the best we could. Big thanks to the medical staff for looking after me and getting my foot repaired, again! Also to the whole Red Bull KTM team: we’d worked hard for this 2022 season and the goal now is to be back and winning as soon as we can.”

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After all the pain of the past, it’s already remarkable that Herlings is still racing and still winning races and titles. He is of course on the brink of breaking Everts GP win record, something that would at least prove the legacy of his phenomenal speed during his career once he eventually calls it quits. He should have been in contention to contend for Everts world title record too but this injury might have scuppered any remaining hope of that achievement.

Unfortunately there is no denying it takes away a bit of the excitement of round one in less than three weeks. With Febvre also coming in injured, it means of the three riders who finished last season vying for the world title, only Tim Gajser will be fit. There is no doubt every rider would want to win the 2022 MXGP crown straight up against Herlings, it would make the achievement all the more satisfying but for Gajser, Prado, Febvre, Seewer, Coldenhoff and more, this is a big window of opportunity to take advantage of. Herlings has left the door open again and, with an unknown return date but also the memory of comeback last season, they won’t want to give Herlings hope when he does return behind the gate.

But for Herlings this has to hurt. It looked like he was coming in motivated, healthy, confident and with a great winter that might have seen him back on that astounding 2018 form, but one stone in one rut looks to have changed everything.

Who knows what happens next. Can he still create history in 2022 and become the “winningest” motocross rider in history by the end of the year? Is another miracle season in store that sees him still, somehow, win the title, or is there even a chance of racing the US Nationals if an MXGP World title is impossible to salvage?

The rest of the story is still to be written after this unexpected plot twist.

Article: Jonathan McCready

Image: Herlings IG