To claim an overall victory just seven rounds into your MXGP career is quite an impressive feat, but everyone expected so much more from Jeffrey Herlings. This is still quite the turnaround, however, as it was just three rounds ago that '84' was struggling to break into the top ten.
MX Vice: Quite a turnaround from two rounds ago. It is hard to believe so much has changed in a month! You came, you saw, you conquered and you are back on top.
Jeffrey Herlings: Yeah. It has been a while since we have been winning. If you look, Mexico was just three races back I think. We were somewhere, last almost. Now it is good. Even from the second moto in Italy, for some reason we made a step and we got fourth. Obviously it was just a moto, but then in Valkenswaard we got second overall with two times third. Now we got both moto wins, so that is good. It has been a cherry on the cake, let’s say. It has been a good weekend. I was fast all weekend long, got some good starts and we’ll keep working from here.
Like you said, you were the fastest in every session. Was that kind of something you wanted to do just to prove to people that you’re back and you can do it?
Yeah, the track should not make a big difference. Definitely I’ll be better in the sand. I’ll always be better in the sand than on the hard-pack, but if you got three world championships you should be all-around on each track. So, obviously, going to Teutschenthal we just go there, have fun and put the best possible result out there then just keep working. I think this season the championship is kind of over, but we can keep on learning and improving and work our way step by step up again.
It was sand, but it is not as sandy as it used to be. There is quite a hard base now. What did you think of the track this weekend?
No, I like the track. The track was very good. I really enjoyed my time. When you are winning you always enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if it is a mud track, hard track or sand track. It doesn’t matter. I really like the track. It was choppy and good. I think here you really needed a good feeling with the bike and I felt good on the bike, so it was good.
Now that you feel good on the bike, does that mean all the talk about switching back to a 350F and riding on a 250F can disappear?
We never tested the 350F. I never doubted the bike. I have just been riding a 250F to get some fun back. Just because I’ve been struggling so much and I knew it wasn’t the bike. It’s been proven from the last couple of years that it is a great bike. I knew it was just all by myself and, mentally, I just rode a little on a 250 for fun. The 350 never was in mind to test, because I know the 450 is capable of winning. It is proven in Europe and it is proven in America. It is definitely one of the best bikes.
I think from now on it is still going to be a long season. I think we have to stay mentally strong and think we belong up there. I had some doubts at the beginning of the season with the hand. I couldn’t train whatsoever, but I think that’s not my excuse. From now on I think we just have to keep building.
It seems that starts are maybe still a little bit of an issue. You didn’t get great jumps out of the gate. Obviously the inside gate helped you, because you could sneak around. Is that something you still want to work on?
Yeah, definitely. It is all new, like a brand new class and a new bike. We still have to discover some things and work on some things. I’ve been watching back the first moto start; I actually got kind of second out of the gate. But the second one I haven’t watched the start yet, so I don’t really know. It is already steps forward and the riding was better. Everything just gets better and better, so hopefully that will get better too. I think the starts is the only issue to stop me being on the podium. I think once I get top three starts I know I’m capable of running with those guys on each track.
Are you doing the Dutch Masters next weekend? If you are, do you use that race just for testing and practice?
I actually stopped testing. The bike is good and I think you definitely need to test at times, but if you test too much it will just get mentally [confusing]. I think from now on we should not test. We have been testing a lot. I think we have already had a great bike and I think, for me, it got way better. I think I’m very happy with the bike now. We just need to be riding, riding, riding.
Going into Teutschenthal, which has not been a great track for you in the past, do you go into there believing you can win or does some doubt start to creep in, just because of the hard-pack and the history there?
I won in 2014, in 2015 I broke my collarbone and in 2016 I won again. I won both motos in ’14 and won both motos in ’16, so the track is not an issue. Definitely I prefer racing more here than I want to race there, but it is not an issue. I know, for sure, some different guys are much faster on that track than they are here, but it should not be an issue. Just keep working. I think we have different goals for Teutschenthal definitely, but if we can be on the podium that is already good. Like I said, we are not racing for a championship anymore. We’re just in a learning spot right now.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX