Although Jeffrey Herlings was not present at the Grand Prix of Lombardia, round eleven of the FIM Motocross World Championship, he was still discussed more than anyone else. With that in mind, getting an update on his injury from Red Bull KTM's Dirk Gruebel seemed like a great idea. Gruebel also discusses the fact that there will be a round in Hong Kong next year.
MX Vice: First off, we will start with the big news from the week. Jeffrey [Herlings] had a crash and broke his collarbone. Just talk about what happened, when you found out and what has gone on since then with his surgery.
Dirk Gruebel: Wednesday, the mishap, it was a normal practice crash. Nothing serious, but he fell on the shoulder and the collarbone was broken. They went straight to the hospital and got checked out and same night surgery. They put a bigger plate in, so now it is all fixed. According to Jeffrey, it is feeling all fine and it is all good. Surgery made it all well. Now we need to wait and heal up a little bit.
Let's say in a strong week we will know much more about when he is going to be able to be back on the bike and start riding. At the moment, no physical training even, but beginning next week he is allowed to. Knowing him, he is not sitting for long on the couch… That is clear. It is a pity. He puts so much effort in and was riding so well. Sometimes shit happens.
There were a couple of rumours that he cracked two ribs as well. Is that true? Is that a problem?
No… That is not a problem. They are only bruised. It looked a bit like it over there from the feeling. He went down hard. He is not practicing slow, of course, and he was quite beaten up. So aching all over the body, but the second check there is nothing on the ribs.
One thing that always makes me a bit mad, and I am sure you will agree, people see the crash and go, "Of course Jeffrey has crashed." There have not been that many, if you look through his career, especially since he got on the 450. There was Ottobiano in the pre-season last year, then in Russia he had the big one coming down the hill that was no problem, but apart from that, I cannot think of any crashes that he has actually had on the big bike.
No, to be honest with the way he rides and how much he twists the throttle on the 450, he is pretty steady. He had more get-offs with the 250, but there I think at one point he was just taking too easy and not paying attention anymore because it had been too easy anyhow. Now, at the moment, I do not know. It just happened. He cannot practice slow and race fast. That is not possible, so he also practices fast.
Unfortunately it strike again on him – he is not fortunate with that. Not one season the last seven or eight years he was without injury, but he had it before. He came back strong. I think it is not a big deal. Now Tony [Cairoli], he gets some extra horsepower, of course, and the championship is really interesting again. He just needs to stay cool.
Do you know how he is feeling in himself? I know with some of the injuries in his MX2 days he was really mad and bummed out. Is he feeling quite upbeat considering the circumstances?
No, actually not. I talk with him and said, "Listen, we just need to stay cool." Whatever happens this week happens and we make the best out of it from the ongoing races when he is healthy again. We know he is the fastest at the moment. His teammate Tony is a big opponent, of course. You know Jeffrey. He is going to give everything to win this first title this year. He was really bummed last year that the first year did not work out. I am pretty confident it will all be good in the end.
You are one hundred percent preparing for him to be back in Indonesia, right? He will be back there, as long as disaster does not strike?
Yeah, the plan is he shows up in Indonesia of course. The riding until then is going to be not much, but I think it does not matter. The way he is riding lately, he still can finish top five. Then you do some damage control if it is not going like you think it should be, but it is not going to be really too bad I think. He rode before with a broken collarbone, and some other stuff happened when he ripped his finger off in Sweden, but the speed was always there.
Speaking of Indonesia, this is going to be a busy couple of weeks for you. From a team's perspective, just talk about what you have got to go through to get ready for that race.
We need to rush home now. The tent is already down, as you can see, because the truck needs to go back to Austria. The boys jump into the sprinter vans and go back. We need to pack up tomorrow because Tuesday is already the pick up of the flight crates. Everything needs to be ready for Tuesday lunchtime.
It was announced yesterday we are going to Hong Kong next year. Did you find out about that from Youthstream before the announcement? What do you think about heading to another flyaway?
Well, there were enough rumours but nothing was really confirmed. Yesterday we really had it confirmed. It's for sure exciting to race there, but flyaway races are taking over a bit lately. Having six next year is heavy on the staff. We have twenty races, six flyaway rounds. Like Giuseppe [Luongo] said, first one Middle East, then come back and onto Argentina. Those are two single ones. It takes its toll. You spend much time in airplanes and airports. At home you cannot do much. Development during races is nearly impossible. Luckily we have a test team, but still to test with the riders themselves… It is not really possible with that schedule.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer