Jeffrey Herlings will be discussing the ride that he had at the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina for many years to come. Fortunately, Lewis Phillips caught up with the series leader at the end of the day whilst everything that went on was still fresh in his mind. There are plenty of interesting titbits in the interview below. If you would like to hear the emotion in his voice, then an audio version is also available on MX Vice.
MX Vice: I have got to be honest, I did not think you were going to pull that off in the second moto. Did you always believe you had it in the bag?
Jeffrey Herlings: No. Once I had that nine seconds still to go, I was like ten seconds behind Tony I think with ten minutes plus two to go and then to still close that gap was not easy. It was tough. For some reason I made it happen. Tony was riding outstanding so, to pull that off, I don’t know how I did it.
Did you actually settle down in the middle of the race and settle for second? Did you only start going for it again once you realised that the gap was coming down naturally?
Well, I actually gave up on the win. I was like ten seconds down, ten minutes to go and then I felt like going into a flow. I saw I was catching him little by little and then the steps got bigger and bigger. It was like four minutes to go or something and I was like only five or six seconds down. I’m like, I can still give it a push and that is what I did. To make that happen was amazing.
Even when I saw the gap coming down I knew that you were going to get to him, but once you got to him I did not know where you were going to pass. Obviously it is tough to pass out there. Did you have a spot in mind or was it just a spur of the moment thing and you had to send it?
No, I just had to send it anywhere. It was the last lap. By the time I got to his rear wheel, it was basically the last lap. I just had to do it wherever I could. I passed him next to the pit lane, then he passed me right back and two turns further he tried to block me a little bit and defend his inside line. I could still rail around the outside and get past.
I guess it did help that you caught him by surprise. He did get defensive, but to begin with he did not expect you to be there so you could kind of just try a move and surprise him a little bit.
Yeah, but at that point you are not really making a plan. You are just going by the flow and whatever happens, happens, let’s say. At that point I was just going for it. If I had an option, I would just take it with both hands. I could not plan anything, because I just had one lap and like one half minute to make the pass happen.
I guess you got faster as the race went on, because obviously the track got rougher. At the beginning of the races it was really fast and flat. A technical rider such as yourself can’t really shine so, as it got rougher, did that kind of allow you to try some new lines and shine a little bit?
Well, there was the race line mainly. We mainly all rode the same line. We rode the fastest line. Even how wide the track was and how well-prepared the track was, it was not that easy to pass. It was, like I said, pretty tough to pass.
Obviously, your free practice time this weekend was pretty incredible. Everyone always comments that you should not be sending it in free practice and that you are going to get hurt. That’s just your speed, right? It is not your fault that you can go that fast. It is not like you are going out there like, right, time to show everyone what’s up. It just happens.
Yeah. I just do my speed. It’s not out of control or anything crazy, so I can just pull off that speed naturally. If I need to take some stupid risk for doing that, yeah, I would agree, but to pull of that lap times I could just do it 100% in control so I don’t think it’s dangerous.
This is the fourth time we’ve been here. It’s a long trip. Is the novelty starting to wear off? Obviously the track is getting hard-pack, or more hard-pack. Do you still enjoy coming here or is it started to get a little tired?
I love being here, but the trip is unbelievable. To get here it’s a long, long trip, but it’s the world championship for a reason and that’s why we have to travel all around the world. I love doing it. I love my job. I’m thankful to make a living out of this. It’s fun. It’s a big trip, but it’s the same for everybody. To get here with the beautiful landscape, it’s pretty amazing.
Finally, Valkenswaard next. You’re going to want to win that one.
Yeah, 100%. It is going to be a tough one. A lot of good guys behind the gate and Tony is very strong. He always has a good start, for some reason, he always holeshots almost. I have to be up there with the start and we’ll see how it goes.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Arccher