Most fans worldwide were saddened by the news that Jeffrey Herlings would not be competing in the 2013 Motocross des Nations, as his shoulder proved to be too damaged. Obviously, following his dominant year in the MX2 class, it would have been interesting to see where he would have finished when racing Antonio Cairoli, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac. But, we are going to have to wait one more year before we see the very fast Dutchman go up against these guys. Although he wasn’t on-track, Jeffrey still travelled to Teutschenthal to witness the sixty-seventh edition of the Motocross des Nations.
MX Vice: So, Jeffrey Herlings, you’re on the other side of the fence this weekend spectating. What did you think of what went on out there?
Herlings: “I mean, it was great to see it. Obviously, I would like to be racing myself. But, I’m not racing, and at the beginning that was difficult. But after I saw the great racing going on, I still enjoyed my time, even though I would rather be out there. It was a good event, the crowd were amazing and the atmosphere was great. So, I just have to say that it was a great weekend.”
MX Vice: Although you were not racing, how involved were you with the Dutch team? Were you over there talking to them about lines, and offering advice?
Herlings: “No, not really. I was just here for KTM. The Dutch team did not even ask me to come. Yeah, I pretty much did nothing all weekend. I watched some racing, some training – and that’s it.”
MX Vice: You must be happy to see some of your European counterparts and KTM teammates on top?
Herlings: “Yep, you know, it’s strange. When I see Roczen winning, when I see Cairoli winning, it’s like, I’m supposed to be fighting with those guys, because I’m always battling with them. Last year at the des Nations I won a moto, and in the second moto I was fighting with Toni. So, seeing him win is kind of difficult, because I know I can do that too. But, it is like this now, and I hope to come out strong in 2014 and go for my third world title.”
MX Vice: So, if you were out there, where in the results do you think you would have slotted in?
Herlings: “I mean, [laughs] I would be trying to win. I think with a decent start, I’m sure I could have battled with Roczen and Tomac, even on a Lites [250f] bike. They went really fast, but I’m sure that I could have stayed with them. Two times in the top three would have been amazing. But, I’m not racing, so who knows.”
MX Vice: Overall, what did you think of your year. Obviously, it was just incredible.
Herlings: “Yeah, I’ve been winning every race that I competed at. So, it’s been an amazing season. Unfortunately, it had to end like this, but it happened, and I have to learn from it.”
MX Vice: How did you feel at Lierop? Give us a percentage.
Herlings: “Make it 50%. I had so much pain, I did not ride for three weeks and my fitness was gone a bit. I did not have any feeling. I won both motos, but if you look at the way I rode, and the way I rode one year earlier, there was such a big difference. I should have not rode, but I did it, and I won both motos with a lot of pain.”
MX Vice: Did that do further damage your shoulder? Ultimately, did riding at Lierop stop you from contesting the Motocross des Nations?
Herlings: “I mean, it didn’t make it better – it only got worse. So, maybe yes, maybe no. I think I would not have raced here anyway, I needed six weeks for it to heal, or three months. So, normally, I should have only started practising now. I took the risk to race in Lierop, and it didn’t make it better. Already one week after that I knew that the des Nations was not going to be possible, as I had so much pain. Yeah, now I just wait for next season.”
MX Vice: What are your plans over the next few weeks? When will be able to get back on a bike now?
Herlings: “It all depends on what the doctor says. I will try to get back on the bike as soon as possible, even though there is no hurry now, as the season is over. I won everything that I wanted to, I got my second world title, and the Dutch championship. But, yeah, I can’t wait to start practising for next season.”
MX Vice: You seem quite focused on the MXGP series. Is your goal to fight with Toni and break Everts’ record?
Herlings: “I’m not really chasing records or anything. You know, you’re always racing, you want more and more. Like this year, I wanted to go undefeated, and I managed to win every overall, before I got injured. But, for next year, I want to break records, and try to go undefeated again. We’ll see what happens.”
MX Vice: Obviously, the MX2 field was a lot weaker this year than it has been in the past. Was it harder for you to focus without having a rival that could beat you each week?
Herlings: “Yeah, definitely. Sometimes on the Saturday, I would make big mistakes, which could have been career ending, like my crash in France, and Valkenswaard as well. I made a load of mistakes, and I’m trying to learn from that, as the Saturday also cost me my season in Bastogne. Hopefully I’ll stay more focused, and stay on the bike more next year.”
MX Vice: Finally, do you think you can go undefeated next year?
Herlings: “There’s eighteen rounds, so that’s thirty-six motos. If I have to go undefeated in all of the motos, then I do not think it is possible. Never say never, but with thirty six motos, if you crash on the start once then it is already over. If I can win every overall, then it will be amazing. But, there are so many factors that come into play, like a DNF, a start crash, a mud race. So, it’s almost impossible, but I came quite close this year. So, I’ll try again.”
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Ray Archer