Jeffrey Herlings continues to blow minds for many different reasons. It really is incredible what he manages to do each week and the Grand Prix of Bulgaria, round seventeen of the FIM Motocross World Championship, was no different. MX Vice editor Lewis Phillips caught up with the series leader for an exclusive chat after the race, where many hot topics were discussed.
MX Vice: Literally perfection. Another week, another interview and another win. There is literally nothing to say. Perfect weekend.
Jeffrey Herlings: Well, that is it then. Nothing more to be said. Perfect weekend. We need a few more of those this year and then we are all smiles. We are looking very good. I am super happy with how things are going and also very happy there is an end in sight, knowing it is five weeks until Italy and three weeks until Assen. The end is in sight, let’s say.
Obviously, you went 1-1 today. That is amazing and everything, but one thing that stands out to me is that last lap of the qualifying race. Literally no clue how you did it, but you busted out a 1:49 and it did not look like you were trying at all. How the hell did you do that? When you got in and saw the times, were even you surprised?
Yeah. At the beginning they watered the track pretty much. In the beginning the track is obviously slower, but once the track got drier I could do faster and faster lap times. In the beginning I could not push, so I still had basically too much energy left, let’s say. I was like, let’s put on a heater. Then I think I went like two, three seconds faster than anyone in the qualifying moto, so that was good.
This has been playing on my mind quite a lot with that lap time and everything. I watched you every single second of it and it did not look like you were pushing at all. [Antonio] Cairoli has said to me a few times that you are always on the limit, but I do not believe you are. I genuinely think you have more to give. Do you feel like you have got a little more in the tank?
Yeah. I feel like today and even the whole weekend, I am not talking about the pre-qualifying lap of course, then you are going one hundred percent. During the qualifying heat and the first and second moto I have been just riding like a good pace, a pace where I felt comfortable. So definitely I was close one hundred percent. I am not going to lie. I am able to say I could go three seconds faster. But I was still in the comfort zone, feeling good and did not have to take any risks.
Obviously, if this was Lommel for you to beat down on the competition like this would be pretty obvious. A track like this is meant to tighten everyone up though. It is not meant to be possible to make big gains. So, did you have any lines out there that you knew were good or were you surprised that you managed to put that much time on everyone?
I think everybody was kind of doing the same lines. I obviously just finished the race, so I have not seen back the race, but I think there were not many things I could do possibly different than all the other guys. I think basically on everything I was maybe a bit faster than most of the guys, but also it has to do a lot with confidence and how you are feeling.
Once everything is clicking you are starting to be on the cloud and things going your way. I had definitely a tough time at the beginning of last year when everything went the opposite way and now I feel like things are coming together. But, like I said, it is not over ‘til it is over and there are still a few more weeks to go. For now, I will take it as it is.
Every race this weekend was the same. Qualifying and moto one Tim was kind of pushing you for the first three to four laps. Tony did the same in the second one. Through that time, are you just watching your board where it says plus zero and thinking that it is fine?
Obviously with the heat they have been watering the track pretty much, which they had to for keeping the dust down, so they did a great job on the track. But at the beginning when the track is slick and, first of all it is hard pack, then it is like concrete. They put water on, so it is like ice, then you do not want to go crazy and make a big crash and throw away the qualifying or even more importantly the moto and overall win. That is why I just in the beginning took it more slowly. Once the track developed, got good grip and good lines I started to feel more comfortable and started pushing harder.
Speaking of the track, having a sign up there that says the best motocross track in the world is a bit bold and a bit confident. What do you think of the place? Happy to see it back?
It is cocky, huh? Cocky is good sometimes. I think it is one of the most beautiful tracks. If you see the track; a lot of uphill and downhills and awesome jumps. If it is the best track in the world, I am not too sure about that, but it is definitely a beautiful track. You have to admit that and be honest with that one.
Finally, obviously you are pushing hard all the time. The team is too. A quick turnaround going to Turkey. What are your plans this week? Are you going to get to ride much?
Yeah, definitely the plan is to keep going until Turkey. After Turkey we will make up a plan and see where we are at, if we make it until there. Definitely going to put in work again this week. We had three races in a row and with the traveling up to Switzerland and back, Bulgaria and back then to Turkey and back, there is not that much we can gain.
It is just a little bit doing what we were doing. Turkey… We will see how it goes, if the track is suiting us and whatsoever. I do not want to go all crazy now. We have a big and comfortable lead, so the worst thing I could do is to throw it away myself. If we are in the occasion that we can win then we will definitely go for it, but I am not going to take any risks normally.
Turkey should be quite nice anyway. It is going to be quite quiet, not too busy. You should enjoy it, because going from there to Assen… I probably will not be able to speak to you that weekend, because it is going to be crazy.
I always make time for you, bud. I am just telling you right now, I will make time for you. If I can wrap up the championship at Assen, it is going to be chaos. At the same time a day like that where you can wrap up a championship, because I did it three times, it is such a beautiful day. It is really nice. All the press will be there, but at the same time it is not because it does not give you really the chance to enjoy the moment as much as you want to. If I win the championship I will take everything that comes with it. I will be really happy if I can take it.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer