Jeffrey Herlings conquered the Hawkstone International once again over the weekend, but it was probably not as easy as he would have liked. Glenn Coldenhoff, his teammate, kept him honest all-day long and ensured that he had to hit all of his marks. We caught up with Herlings as he was driving out of the facility to discuss that, his day, the hill and upcoming MXGP season.
MX Vice: You came and won all three motos. Everything you wanted to do is done. Considering where you were at in Italy last week, it must be nice to get the first one under your belt?
Jeffrey Herlings: Yeah, definitely. Last weekend I don’t even see it as a race, because I just made like fifty meters, then obviously I didn’t qualify for the Superfinal. I was not allowed to race. Today we came back and we got three good starts, three times behind my teammate, so it has been showing our bike is really good. We got first and second out of the gate each time. Obviously I had to pass him three times though, so it was a little bit tough to pass because of the rain. You basically had just one line and to overtake was not easy, but I think we did a good job. We tested some things today on the bike. I am super happy with the bike. The bike is feeling good. Try to keep building from here.
You mentioned that the track was one-lined there. It seemed like it did not get as rough as normal either, so were you riding a little reserved? Obviously it was possible to push higher speeds, which then equals a mistake, and you know only too well that that’s not the thing to do at these races.
No, definitely don’t want to injure myself in a race like this. A lot of respect for this race, but still it is not a GP. Even in GPs you don’t want to get hurt. We all know when we are racing a motorcycle that there is a chance to get hurt and we have to accept it but, anyway, I liked the track a lot. The uphill – that is why they removed it. It was a bit sketchy.
A lot of rocks came out on the top. Not a lot, but a few. It was I think a good move that they took the big hill out for everyone’s safety. The part they replaced it with, the track was actually really good. Like I said, it was one-lined and not as rough as it was normally. We really enjoyed it. We won all three motos – that is the most important thing of the day.
I heard that you had quite a big role to play in taking the hill out? They came to you and spoke about it to get your thoughts on it?
Yeah, some people from the organisation came up to me and said, what do you think? I just looked at everybody’s safety, not just mine but everyone’s. Obviously, we have to accept there are some professional top riders and some riders who are a little bit lower level. It needs to just be safe. Going up that hill, it’s hard for the machinery to flatten it and work on it, so there were some rocks coming out and down the big hill was only one line. It can get a bit dodgy. It wasn’t too bad in the morning, but knowing how much racing we still had during the day and with the rocks coming out, it might have got dangerous. I think everybody was happy with how the track was at the end of the day.
Obviously, the injury in Italy last year kind of wrecked your year, but before that point you were riding really well. Considering where you are now, do you think you’re at an even higher level? Much higher or would you say you are kind of even?
I think I’m a little bit on the same. It’s not about the first GP. It is about being good at nineteen GPs, so it’s not a big stress even if we won’t win the first one. Obviously we want to be much better than what we were last year, going tenth or fifteenth with the hand injury, but at least we are there and we can fight for a podium spot. That is enough. Again, we have two weeks to regroup and then it will be Valkenswaard and still a lot of GPs coming. I just want to be consistent and be good. Obviously it’s a long season, so I do not want to get too quick in the season. We really want to have a good base going into the season and still try to improve.
Do you ever think about not doing any of these races? Obviously, you know how high the risk is. But do you actually think they’re useful? Have you learned things today?
Yeah, definitely. We tried some things on the bike and I think it was better to do it in a race situation than a practice situation, because you will have some competition and you are really fighting each other. Obviously, the field was not as competitive as a GP. There were only a few good riders, but still it was a good day.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX